Tom Haines at the helm for Sussex as Berg and Sanderson turn up the volume for Northants


Slender advantage turned into 81-run first-innings lead as tailenders get busy

Sussex 175 and 142 for 4 (Haines 64*) lead Northamptonshire 256 (Zaib 64, Garton 4-69) by 61 runs

Berg & Sanderson sound more like a high-end headphones manufacturer than a lethal new-ball partnership, and the very mention of their names has been enough to leave Sussex supporters’ ears ringing this month. After sharing 19 wickets in the reverse fixture at Wantage Road they have managed another nine between them in the Hove sunshine this week, but it was their 51-run stand for the last wicket that maintained Northamptonshire’s advantage on the second day.
Saif Zaib had held their response to Sussex’s 175 together with a determined half-century, adding 53 with Adam Rossington after George Garton cleaned up Simon Kerrigan early on, but when he edged behind shortly after lunch the lead was only 30. Sussex hoped they would be comfortably in front by teatime, but hadn’t counted on Berg’s long-handled bludgeoning: he cut and pulled the seamers confidently, and dumped Jack Carson over the hospitality tents for a six that had sunbathers taking cover on the seafront.

Still going strong at the age of 40 (and why shouldn’t he be, when Darren Stevens is around), Berg’s performances this season have made Middlesex’s decision to release him in 2014 – fearing he wouldn’t recover from a shoulder injury – look bafflingly premature. He now combines his playing duties with a player-coach role for Italy’s national team, and has aspirations to recruit Jade Dernbach after securing Grant Stewart’s services for the European leg of T20 World Cup qualifying this autumn; on days like this, he must surely reflect that la vita è bella.

Berg was a spot lower than usual at No. 10 thanks to Kerrigan’s nightwatchman duties, but was a handy No. 7 for much of his first-class career and has clearly not lost the knack – though was dropped at second slip before he had got going. Sanderson, by contrast, has no pedigree with the bat but was happy to tuck in when Garton missed his length with the new ball. Their stand ended when his stumps were rearranged by the same bowler, but not before the lead had crept up to 81, securing a second batting bonus point that may yet prove vital in their bid for a top-two finish.

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