Ollie Robinson chips in with 59 as Sussex recover admirably from 127 for 6
It little mattered that the easterly wind down Talbot Road retained something of its winter cut this morning or that the sun over Salford Quays was as watery as a Methodist minister’s Christmas tipple. Large portions of the County Championship may have been barged into spring and autumn but the season was still beginning and most players know these are the games by which they will be judged. By late September careers will have a different shape. The anticipation was keen as the breeze and cricketers have known that feeling for a hundred and more years. “Some do sing as though the summer’s coming,” wrote the marvellous Nancy Kerr.
So much was the same. That was clear in the particular enthusiasm the bobble-hatted gaggles of players devoted to their morning warm-ups. Among those groups were the Lancashire seamers, whose efforts dominated the first exchanges of our day’s cricket; also running like fury – as much to keep warm as anything? – was Tom Haines, whose career-best 155 was the innings by which this day will be remembered. Haines scored the first century of his career on a blissful midsummer’s afternoon at Arundel when the world was very different and the runs came with a freshman’s ease. This was a very different affair: the 22-year-old was dropped three times before he departed with a tired swish and edge to the keeper deep in the evening session. But Haines’ understanding that he needed to give the Lancashire seamers the morning before claiming the rest of the day for his own revealed a new-found maturity. To an extent he batted better here than he had at Arundel.