Woes continue for Delray Rawlins as Sussex launch fightback
Delray Rawlins’s wretched form continued yesterday when he was dismissed for a four-ball duck amid a valiant Sussex fightback against Derbyshire at the 1st Central County Ground in Hove.
Buoyed by a superb 150 not out by former captain Ben Brown, Sussex have given themselves a foothold in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon in the LV= Insurance County Championship third division, closing at 255 for six.
But it is the sustained bad run with the bat of Bermuda’s star all-rounder that will concern many — most of all himself.
Sussex had already made inroads into Derbyshire’s mammoth 465 by the time Rawlins arrived at the wicket at 188 for five, thanks to Brown and wicketkeeper Oli Carter rebuilding the innings from a perilous 46 for four.
But the game changed when Carter, having just reached his maiden first-class fifty, picked out deep mid-wicket to be out for 51.
Rawlins never looked comfortable in a brief, four-minute stay in the middle, his arrival eliciting a yard of pace from right-arm seam bowler Dustin Melton, who had previously looked pretty innocuous.
However, the first ball to the left-hander from around the wicket was an absolute belter, bowled with pace, away movement and steep bounce — entirely unfair on a batter already struggling with his game.
The next two were left alone wide of off stump but on the fourth — a leg-stump half-volley that would have been meat and drink for an in-form Rawlins to get off the mark — he contrived to mistime his glance so badly that it took a leading edge and gave the surprised bowler a return catch low down in his follow-through.
The long, slow walk from the pitch epitomised the struggles of a player who has scored only 175 runs at 10.93 in 16 championship innings, with five ducks.
Sussex were now 188 for six and facing the possibility of struggling to avoid the follow-on, before Brown found another willing partner in Jack Carson (27 not out), who held his end as the pair carried the home side to the close with an unbroken stand of 67 in 63 minutes for the seventh wicket.
Brown, who was there from the second ball of the innings after Ali Orr was caught behind, brought up his 150 off 134 balls on the third ball of the final over of the day. He has been at the crease for 277 minutes, hitting 19 fours off 179 balls in his fourth century of the season and second in succession.
“I feel good. I’ve felt good for a while, after the first few games,” Brown told the official Sussex website. “I’m enjoying my batting and this is a terrific wicket.
“There was pace and bounce for the seamers, but the batsmen can use that bounce and put away anything short. I tried to help Oli Carter and I’m delighted for him, getting his first fifty.
“He was really calm under pressure. I enjoy my wicketkeeping as well, so that will be a conversation at the end of the season."
Earlier, Sussex were deep trouble only 14 overs into their reply, with captain Tom Haines gone for 18, and Danial Ibrahim (1) and Harrison Ward (0) both failing to challenge the scorers as Derbyshire gained momentum from the first-ball dismissal of Orr.
New-ball bowlers Melton and Ben Aitchison shared the six Sussex wickets to fall, Melton taking three for 47 and Aitchison three for 60.
Derbyshire added 94 to their overnight total of 371 for five with Anuj Dal finishing with 49 not out from 79 balls after Wayne Madsen scored 111 on the opening day when Derbyshire won the toss and elected to bat.
Henry Crocombe and Jamie Atkins claimed four wickets apiece for Sussex, with Crocombe finishing with four for 92 from 26 overs and 19-year-old Atkins taking four for 117 off 24.4 overs.