19-21 July 2002
An eighth-wicket record
It occasionally happens in team sport that when the main players are missing there is someone who takes the opportunity to demonstrate his or her talent. In 2002 Sussex went to Taunton to play Somerset in a championship match without their captain Chris Adams, who had a calf strain, and without their England bowler James Kirtley, who had broken a bone in his hand whilst practising in the nets with the England one-day squad. As if the side had not suffered enough bad luck, the stand-in captain Richard Montgomerie lost the toss to Somerset’s Tasmanian Jamie Cox.
A Club record
The groundsman had prepared an excellent pitch for the Friday start, but the hosts failed to take advantage of it. In the first 39 overs, seven wickets went down as Billy Taylor, Jason Lewry and Kevin Innes scuttled out the top and middle order. When it seemed as if Sussex had bowled Somerset out for a low score, the last two batsmen Matthew Bullock and Steffan Jones added 63 for the last wicket to give Somerset a first innings total of 270.
When Sussex went in, the opening pair of Richard Montgomerie and Tim Ambrose made a brisk start but both of them were out by the time the score had reached 94. Tony Cottey, who was only playing because of the injury to Adams, ran to a 59- ball fifty, ably supported by Michael Yardy.
On the Saturday morning, a score of 500 seemed very possible on what was a flat pitch, and Cottey took advantage by reaching his second century of the season with a six and 14 fours and added 123 runs with Ambrose. Once Cottey and Ambrose were out, Somerset seemed to be clawing their way back into the match with 500 a long way off. Sussex were 351 for seven but then Mark Davis and Robin Martin-Jenkins batted through to the close of play with each player making his highest score in first-class cricket. Their unbeaten partnership of 238 beat the previous Sussex record for the eighth wicket made a hundred years previous by Charles Smith and George Brann.
One run short of the all-time record
Resuming on the Sunday morning, Davis who was batting with a broken bone in his hand having been struck by Jones, reached his maiden century whilst Martin-Jenkins reached his double century with a drive through extra cover. His previous best score was 113. When Davis was out edging to slip for 111, the pair had put on 291, just one run short of the county championship record set in 1896 by R. Peel and Lord Hawke for Yorkshire against Warwickshire.
Sussex batted on and reached 644 with Martin-Jenkins left on 205 not out, having faced 233 balls and struck a six and 29 fours. It was the County’s highest score since their 670 for nine declared against Northamptonshire at Hove in 1921.
After this feast of runs the Sussex bowlers took full advantage of the rest they had had. Jason Lewry took the first four Somerset wickets with just 63 on the board. Burns (98) and Blackwell (114)o batted well but they had little support. There could only be one result as Sussex won by an innings and one run with Somerset bowled out for 373.