Haines hundred is highlight as Sussex shine at The Oval

Tom Haines negotiated both a fiery second spell from Jamie Overton and a verbal spat with left-arm spinner Dan Moriarty to reach a superb 105 not out in Sussex’s first innings 239 for 3 against Surrey at the Kia Oval.

Tom Haines celebrates his ton at The Oval / Picture: Getty
Tom Haines celebrates his ton at The Oval / Picture: Getty

It was the 21-year-old Horsham batsman's second first-class hundred and he featured in century stands with both Aaron Thomason and Delray Rawlins as Sussex made an impressive start to the final round of Bob Willis Trophy fixtures after winning the toss and opting for first use of a slow-paced pitch.

Rawlins made a punchy 65 from 88 balls, launching both Moriarty and Scott Borthwick’s leg spin for massive straight sixes, while Thomason’s nuggety 49 in an unfamiliar opening role was another important contribution to the Sussex cause.

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At stumps Haines had faced 216 balls, hitting 14 fours and batting with great self-discipline throughout a day of only five hours’ playing time, because of a 12 noon start following Surrey’s floodlit Vitality Blast fixture against Middlesex on the ground the previous evening.

Haines said: “I had never been to The Oval before today so to play here and score my second first-class hundred at a great ground like this is unbelievable. It’s even more special to get a ton here.

“It’s been a couple of years since my first one and a lot of hard work, so to get to the hundred was a great feeling and hopefully there are a lot more to come. I’ve had quite a lot of good starts, without really going on to a big score, and I’ve been aware of that. But I’ve felt in good form in all the Bob Willis Trophy games and now we need to keep going tomorrow and get as many more runs as we can in the first innings overs we still have left.”

Surrey’s bowlers had little to encourage them in the conditions, with 52 overs of spin employed by Rory Burns, but the sluggish surface did not prevent Overton, who had looked fairly innocuous in a new ball spell of 4-0-20-0 on his red-ball Surrey debut, from peppering both Haines and Rawlins in a five-over late afternoon burst that was markedly more hostile.

Haines had initially been joined in a determined first wicket stand of 102 by Thomason, who fought his way through 115 balls after being promoted to open following Phil Salt’s call-up into England’s white-ball squad. But soon after Moriarty had Thomason leg-before in the 33rd over, pushing crookedly forward, Sussex also lost Harry Finch for 1 when off spinner Amar Virdi won a deserved lbw verdict during a skilful 11-over afternoon spell costing just 22 runs.

Rawlins had just hit Moriarty for his first six, followed by one of his eventual six fours, when non-striker Haines and the bowler exchanged heated words and the match was held up for several minutes while Neil Bainton and Ben Debenham, the umpires, spoke to both players and Surrey captain Burns.

Overton, who then replaced Moriarty for the 45th over with Sussex on 134 for 2, almost immediately hit Haines on the grille of his helmet and then Rawlins on the body as he worked up some real pace from around the wicket to the two left-handers.

But Rawlins responded with a gorgeous off drive for four and Haines also pulled Overton, who has left Somerset in search of regular red-ball cricket with Surrey, to the ropes in the best passage of cricket of the day.

Virdi, though, emerged as Surrey’s most successful bowler of the day, returning after tea to have Rawlins caught by Will Jacks at short leg after a partnership with Haines of 116 in 30 overs. And it was noticeable that every Surrey player, including Moriarty, applauded Haines warmly after he finally added another ton, in his 21st first-class appearance, to the 124 he made against Durham at Arundel in 2018 in only his third match.

Sussex were fielding one of the most inexperienced teams in their history, with an average age of 24 and including batsman James Coles who, at 16 years and 157 days old, became the youngest Sussex player to appear in first-class cricket.

Missing from Sussex’s line-up were three senior players in opener Salt, seamer Ollie Robinson, who was unavailable, and veteran former Durham and Kent paceman Mitch Claydon, who has been suspended by the ECB on suspicion of illegally using hand sanitiser on the ball during the Willis Trophy fixture against Middlesex last month.

Coles, who has emerged through Oxfordshire’s county age group system, captained the South & West in last year’s Bunbury Festival, the long-running event for the best Under-15 cricketers in the country, and won the player of the tournament award for scoring 199 runs in three innings, including one knock of 112.