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Rawlins seizes first team opportunity

Moment seized: Delray Rawlins

Delray Rawlins grabbed his first team opportunity at Sussex with both hands, literally, producing career-best bowling figures and then sharing in a century partnership as Sussex fought back against Durham on day two of their Specsavers County Championship match at the 1st Century County Ground yesterday.

Sussex were being outplayed by Durham, the bottom side in the Second Division, resuming on 259 for five at the start of the day before finishing on 384.

Sussex had taken the new ball at the start of play, however the bowling was wayward as Durham piled on the runs with captain Cameron Bancroft and Ned Eckersley setting a new club record partnership of 281 for the sixth wicket. It beat the 278 shared between Michael Richardson and Stuart Poynter at Derby last season.

Rawlins, not used much as a bowler, was thrown the ball and responded by taking three of the last five Durham wickets.

Durham then reduced Sussex to 90 for five before Rawlins joined David Wiese at the crease, the pair quickly setting about delighting the crowd.

The Sussex top order, without the injured Phil Salt and with others out of form, were three wickets down for just two runs after only 25 balls. They fell further in trouble when Laurie Evans was caught down the leg-side for 20, before key batsman Stiaan van Zyl was bowled for 34 just before tea.

Sussex was left with a lot of work to do when Ben Brown was caught at mid-on off the second ball after tea for 26 and then Chris Jordan was caught at slip for six, leaving Sussex in deep trouble at 110 for seven.

Suddenly the fun started for Sussex, with left-hander Rawlins showing his batting talent as he and the experienced Wiese took the attack to the Durham bowlers. Rawlins reached his third first-class fifty with a huge six over long-on, his second of the innings, to go with six fours.

Rawlins and Wiese put on 109 for the eighth wicket, a record between the two sides, before Wiese fell for 56. Sussex closed on 231-9, still 153 behind, with Rawlins on 56 not out from 115 balls.

Rawlins was happy to seize his opportunity in the first team, the call-up catching him completely by surprise. “My opportunity to play came about through an injury,” he explained. “I don’t like to see injuries but it was nice to get the opportunity and get some runs and wickets.

“I found out on Sunday morning that I was playing. It was a bit of a shock to me. Playing wasn’t on my radar, but it’s nice to get the opportunity.

“David Wiese has been there all year, with bat and ball, and he made it easier for me to play. We managed to put ourselves in a better position than we were when I came to the crease.”

Rawlins added: “We were struggling a bit. But when Durham batted they were in trouble before a couple of guys put together a partnership.

“We decided to be positive and if there was something there we liked, we hit it. And it came off for the two of us.

“With the bowling, it’s been coming out quite nicely in the past few weeks. And the wicket assisted me a little bit.

“I’m still working on my red- ball game. We need to come back in the morning and bat normally.”