Wessels Excels
At Hove

Featured News | 26th May 2012

One of Nottinghamshire’s most unwanted records was cast aside on the second day of their LV= County Championship match against Sussex at Hove.

For the first time since August 2008 a pair of the county’s openers put on a century stand. Providing a nice piece of symmetry, the last occasion was also at Hove, with Will Jefferson and Bill Shafayat adding 157 together on that occasion.

The two names to expunge them from the annals of history are Alex Hales and Riki Wessels. Opening together for the first time in four-day cricket they added a scintillating 171 for the first wicket.

Hales eventually fell for 80 but his partner kept on going and going, with Wessels reaching stumps undefeated on 184.

Riki’s father, Kepler Wessels played for Sussex between 1976 and 1980. “He sent me a text at tea-time to say: “Well done – both Wessels have now scored a ton at Hove. This place means a lot to my family, he enjoyed playing here and my parents got married down here.”

Wessels senior had a career-best score of 254. “He’s bet me a few bucks that I’ll never beat that so hopefully I can cash in tomorrow and make him pay. Alex and I seemed to click together when we opened in the T20 last year and it just worked for us again today. We are both fairly aggressive players and seem to compliment each other.”

Notts wasted little time in taking the sole remaining Sussex wicket during the morning session. With only three more runs being added, Naveed Arif (28) chanced his arm against Samit Patel and holed out to Ben Philips at mid off. Patel’s final figures were 4-67, with Andre Adams and Harry Gurney each grabbing two of the other wickets to fall.

Wessels, opening in the championship for the first time since the trip to Hampshire last July, was aided by a poor piece of early boundary footwork by Panesar as a guide down to fine leg was allowed to cross the ropes for four.

Hales, watchful and determined, was content to play the anchor role as his partner delighted with a succession of fine shots. The England international upped his strike-rate as lunch-time approached and by the interval had overtaken his partner, as the scoreboard read 75-0 after 29 overs.

On the first day Wessels ran Michael Yardy out with the first ball of the afternoon session, this time he crashed Magoffin away for an emphatic off-side boundary to set the tone for the entire afternoon. There were no concerns about reaching or passing the three figure landmark as both batsmen displayed some eye-catching stroke-play.

They remained neck and neck with each other until, eventually, Panesar made the breakthrough, getting one to grip and turn enough to bowl Hales (80) with the score on 171.

Sussex missed a chance to send back another batsman as Michael Yardy spilled Michael Lumb at slip but there was no restraining Wessels.

His century came from 145 deliveries, with 17 boundaries and he celebrated by lofting Panesar into the reinforced glass of the Media Centre for the first maximum of the match.

He cut loose in the final three overs before the interval to speed to an unbeaten 125 at tea, a session that had produced 145 runs for the loss of Hales.

After a stand of 95 for the second wicket Lumb (23) chopped Naveed Arif to Joe Gatting in the gully to give the home side a bit of relief and two more wickets fell relatively cheaply.

Patel (11) was given out caught behind off Nash, although it appeared he wasn’t convinced about the decision. The same bowler saw off James Taylor (5), thanks to a short leg catch by Gatting.

Adam Voges, having flown in from Australia, would have relished the long hop he received from Nash to pull his first boundary of the summer and he was unbeaten at the close on five.

Wessels, meanwhile had continued to plunder runs at will, moving to his highest score for the county. His 150 was brought up with a mighty blow over long on and into the car park and by stumps had the thoughts of that career-best – and his father’s bet – well within sight.

Notts closed on 320-4, an overall lead of eleven.

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