Hampshire closed in on their first win since promotion to Division One of the LV County Championship after Adam Wheater’s hundred and four wickets for Fidel Edwards helped put them in charge against Sussex at Hove.
Wheater’s 111 was his second century for the county and although Gareth Berg was run out for 99 their stand of 165 in 24 overs helped Hampshire establish a first innings lead of 141.
Edwards then removed Sussex’s top three with the new ball and came back towards the close to pick up Chris Nash for 50 as the hosts closed on 142 for 5, a lead of just one run.
It was a tough day for an understrength Sussex, although when they had Hampshire 197 for 7, having just removed James Vince for 76, they probably entertained hopes of a first innings lead themselves.
Instead, with only Steve Magoffin bowling with the necessary control, their attack was shredded by Wheater and Berg, whose partnership set a new Hampshire eighth wicket record against Sussex.
Between them they struck 136 runs in boundaries with Berg hitting four sixes as the Sussex attack leaked runs at nearly seven an over.
It’s a very tough position for us but if we can get a lead of 150 it could be very tight and Luke Wright is key to our chancesChris Nash
Wheater reached a chanceless hundred just after lunch from just 82 balls and was clearly frustrated with himself when he top-edged a sweep at part-time off-spinner Luke Wells, having hit 17 fours and faced 99 balls in what was only the third Championship century at Hove this season.
Wells soon picked up the wicket of Edwards, leaving Berg on 84 when he was joined by last man Jackson Bird. Berg moved into the 90s with successive straight sixes off left-arm spinner Mike Yardy only to be run out by Matt Hobden’s direct hit running in from the fine leg boundary when the came back for a second run. His 99 off 98 balls included 12 boundaries.
Hampshire tails were up, though, and Edwards reinforced their superiority by taking 3 for 16 in seven overs with the new ball.
The West Indian discomfited all the Sussex batsmen with searing pace and occasionally steepling bounce down the slope. Luke Wells was out for a duck, squared up and edging to third slip, Matt Machan (1) under-edged a pull into his stumps and Mike Yardy (15) was leg before to a full-length ball when Edwards went over the wicket to the left-hander.
At 23 for 3 Sussex were in danger of a two-day defeat but skipper Ed Joyce and Nash rebuilt the innings with a stand of 61 in 20 overs. But confirmation that it was Hampshire’s day came when Berg, who had taken four wickets in the first innings, slanted a ball across Joyce which he could have left but instead edged to second slip for 36.
Nash progressed to 50, from 93 balls with seven fours, but immediately after reaching his first half-century of the season he was trapped in front by Edwards, who finished the day with figures of 4 for 21 from 11 overs, an analysis he will fancy his chances of improving on the third day.
Adam Wheater, said “ I have been tinkering with my technique a little bit in the past week because I wanted to be like my old dominant self with the bat and I am pleased that the work has paid off.
“The wicket is a bit unpredictable and almost gives you licence to go out and play a few shots. We’ve seen that throughout which is why the game has gone forward so quickly.
“Gareth Berg played out of skin and hit some amazing shots and then Fidel Edwards bowled at proper pace so we have put ourselves in a good position.
“It’s nice to be on the front foot in games for a change, it makes it much more enjoyable and there is a great atmosphere in our changing room.”
Chris Nash said: “You have to give Wheater and Berg credit, they batted brilliantly and scored a lot of runs in boundaries but at 197 for 7 we had the chance of getting a lead or restricting the deficit and we struggled to contain them.
“Then Fidel Edwards bowled two great spells and it is hard to play someone of his pace because one or two balls do keep low and you have to change your game plan a bit.
“It’s a very tough position for us but if we can get a lead of 150 it could be very tight and Luke Wright is key to our chances, he’s batted really well. I was pleased to get some runs. There’s a bit less pressure at No.5 as opposed to opening, which I normally do, and we have played on some good wickets. I haven’t felt in bad nick and hopefully I can push on from here.”
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!