Simpson adapts well to life at the top

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John Simpson

John Simpson put Middlesex in a solid position at the end of day two with 58

Makeshift opener John Simpson held the fort for Middlesex on a rain-reduced second day against Sussex at Uxbridge.

Heavy rain in the morning and late afternoon allowed only 45.3 overs of play on the second day, but Simpson made full use of his time in the middle scoring 58 not out.

Sussex began on 413 for nine after Luke Wright had completed a brilliant hundred with a pull for six off Steve Finn from the last ball of the opening day.

Wright continued to hit out when play finally got under way again at 1.20pm, on-driving Toby Roland-Jones for his fourth six and also striking 14 fours in all before he was caught at the wicket off Finn for 134, from just 122 balls.

Collymore, the Sussex last man, helped Wright to add 78 for the 10th wicket – precious runs for the Second Division leaders against the team currently propping up the rest.

Middlesex rallied well following the early loss of England skipper Andrew Strauss with Simpson and Owais Shah putting on 82 in 24 overs for the second wicket.

Simpson, the 22-year-old wicketkeeper, was fortunate to survive some excellent new-ball bowling from both Collymore and Lewis Hatchett, a 20-year-old left-arm paceman making his Championship debut, but then flourished in the company of Shah.

Collymore rested after an opening spell of one for 24 from eight overs, and Shah opened up after a quiet start to drive Ollie Rayner’s off-spin for six over wide long-on besides twice cover-driving him for four in the same over.

Monty Panesar settled into a tight spell from the other end, beating Shah with his very first ball and conceding just 13 runs from his six overs before the rain arrived again at 5.05pm.

Wright, however, had by then sent back Shah with his bustling fast-medium, the batsman touching an attempted pull to Matt Prior behind the stumps after scoring 38.

Left-hander Simpson remained solid, having batted for two-and-a-half hours and faced 115 balls, hitting nine fours.

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