Such a good title, I had to nick it to give my thoughts about the MCC v Sussex match.
I only caught days two and three, so missed the Sussex first innings collapse (though caught up with it on the SussexTV highlights) and it seems that we are still susceptible to doing this in bowler friendly conditions. . After the match, Adams said that his reason for batting was because he believed the Rose Bowl would be similar conditions and that we needed to practice in them, so I guess that is fair enough and it is clearly something we need to work on as it has been the weak point of the side for several seasons.
Onto what I did see and I must say that the signs are looking very good.
First of all, a word about Harris. Whilst it is dangerous to jump to too many conclusions on the basis of one match , he looks like he has the potential to fill the gap left by Rana. On this performance he looked to be on the quicker side of fast-medium, bowled on a good length, accurate and able to swing both the new and old ball in both directions. Whilst I can't comment on Kirby's 1st day performance, he was certainly the pick of the bowlers on show in the next two days.
Lewry only bowled 6 overs, didn't feature on day 2 and is out for at least two weeks, having picked up a leg injury. He will be missed but perhaps it is better that this happened here than at the Rose Bowl.
Martin-Jenkins was his usual steady self and made the batsmen play more often than not. He picked up the wicket of Foster, who unfortunately looked very badly out of sorts at the moment.
Luke Wright bowled with fire, as both Shah and Kirby will testify, but on the whole perhaps a little too short and not quite accurate enough to make the batsmen play on a regular basis but certainly signs of improvement on previous years and will be a very useful option as 4th seamer in the regular season.
The two new boys also performed creditably. Aga picked up the wicket of Tredwell and impressed many with the swing he generated. Perhaps his miracle ball against Glamorgan earlier in the pre-season is something he can produce on a regular basis. Beer showed great temperament after being hit for two 4s in quick succession by Harinath, gaining immediate revenge by having him caught by Prior with what looked from side on to be a top spinner or googly.
Like many, I was a bit surprised at Hopkinson's inclusion ahead of Hodd but given the management's recent record on such calls, it would be wrong to make to many criticisms. The reason is Hodd's lack of opening experience, so he is likely to be opening for the 2ndXI and will certainly be pressing for a reversal of the decision.
The other opening position will not be up for grabs for a while yet. Nash showed that he has grown into the role after a creditable performance last year by following the first innings top score with a well crafted 90.
Of Shreck's three victims, both Yardy and Prior looked to be in decent nick before misjudgements gave their wickets away but Adams, who can be a relatively slow starter in a season, looked less fluent. He was a little early on his shot the penultimate ball of his innings and very early on his dismissal, lobbing a gentle catch back to the bowler. Perhaps some credit to the bowler there as it did look a slightly slower delivery and he may have been bowling for it.
It is unlikely Wright will ever have a chanceless knock of any substance but after a few wafts and scares early on (some sweetly timed shots too) he got his head down set about building a fine innings. Plenty of power and placement and unfazed by a rain break, completed a fine century just before tea (and more rain) by hammering three fours off an Onions over. On the next resumption he set off his own brand fireworks for the very few who stayed to the death.
Martin-Jenkins also showed his ability with the bat with a half century at almost a run a ball, comfortably outscoring Wright in a 100 partnership. He should perhaps have been stumped in his 20s, when he dragged his foot out of the crease to Tredwell (the pick of the MCC attack by a long way in the second innings) but he was fortunate that Foster rather grabbed at the ball in his haste. However, this was pretty much the only chance offered in a typically aggressive innings.
Before Lewry's injury it was pretty certain that Aga and Beer would be the ones to make way for Goodwin and Mushtaq in the upcoming Hampshire match but the former is probably now in a three way battle with Kirtley and Liddle, who was very impressive bowling off a short run in the nets to Goodwin. It is a tough choice but not an unpleasant one and whichever it is will add another dimension to what already looks to be a good attack in fine form. If the batting can overcome its first innings woes, with Wright and RMJ at 7 and 8 and three bowlers who at least know how to bat a bit, there is enough depth to have confidence against any county bowling attack.