Lancashire continued their impressive start to the new season with an imposing batting performance against Sussex on the opening day at Hove.
On the back of successive LV= County Championship wins, the joint leaders took advantage winning the toss on a good pitch, a short boundary and lacklustre home bowling to close the day on 322-6 from 96 overs.
Karl Brown was the star of the show, the 22 year-old maintaining his liking for batting against the South Coast side with 88 after his hundred in the opening week win at Liverpool.
The only down side of the day was two wickets falling, those of Brown and night-watchman Gary Keedy, in the penultimate over of the day.
Brown, who hit eleven fours in his 161 balls at the crease, admitted that he was “massively frustrated to have missed out on a second ton.
He said: “I felt that the ball I got out to I could have cut for four. I certainly didn’t play it as well as I could have. But they bowled well for the last 15 overs, and credit to them because we couldn’t get away.”
Brown was well supported by his team-mates, in particular Paul Horton and Stephen Moore. They laid the foundations with an opening partnership of 129 inside 37 overs.
The pair batted through the morning session with very few alarms as the Sussex attack took their time to settle. Horton brought up his half-century from 70 balls with ten fours.
Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Amjad Khan, Naveed Arif and England one-day man Luke Wright all struggled to start with, although the former two improved and Wright picked up a crucial wicket.
And it was left to England spinner Monty Panesar to bring some kind of control and threat to the proceedings. The left-armer finished the day with figures of 1-62 from 30 overs.
Pakistani new ball bowler Rana may have finished with three wickets, but that haul flattered him, and the Sussex attack bowled 18 no balls between them throughout the day.
Rana got the breakthrough for the hosts when he trapped Moore lbw in the seventh over after the lunch break.
Horton, who hit 13 boundaries in his 146 balls at the crease, followed in the 45th over when he top edged a needless pull shot off the bowling of Wright to Ed Joyce at slip, leaving the score at 156-2.
Brown and Mark Chilton (32) advanced the score to 237-2 from 64 overs at tea, but Chilton was run out shortly afterwards thanks to a direct hit from mid-wicket to end their 82-run partnership.
Brown then brought up his 98-ball fifty with a glorious drive off the back foot through the covers off the bowling of Panesar.
Panesar picked up his only wicket - that of Steven Croft caught at short-leg by Ben Brown - to reduce the visitors to 266-4 in the 77th over.
Brown and Luke Procter then added 55 for the fifth wicket, but they had to dig in because this was when Sussex were at their best.
And so it proved when Rana had Brown superbly caught low down at slip by Joyce and Keedy caught behind by Andrew Hodd three balls later.
Procter - one of two changes to the side that beat Somerset – will resume unbeaten on 26 with Gareth Cross for company. Procter replaced hamstring victim Tom Smith, while Glen Chapple returned for Oliver Newby.
“I think we’re in a very good position,” added Brown. “At the start of the day, we’d have taken 320-6. Obviously it wasn’t great losing myself and Keeds late on, but we’re still in a great position to go on and get 400.”
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
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