It can be easy to pigeon-hole cricketers.

Of the Sussex players, only skipper Chris Adams has a better one-day career average than Richard Montgomerie.

But for more than a year, Montgomerie was in danger of being remembered at Hove mainly for his consistent performances as a Championship opener.

Between June 2004 and August 2005, he played in just one limited overs game against Sri Lanka A - which is about as low-profile as it can get.

Sussex persisted with a left and right-handed combination at the top in Ian Ward and Matt Prior after signing Ward in 2004 as they chased promotion to the first division of the one-day league.

It all changed for Monty on August 1 2005 when Ward pulled out of a game against Somerset at Hove through injury. Montgomerie stepped in and, remembering the advice of coach Peter Moores, played with unabashed freedom. His unbeaten 132 remains a career one-day best.

Moores had told Montgomerie that he needed big hundreds from his big guns, not pretty fifties. That night under the Hove lights and in front of a live TV audience he obliged - and has not looked back since.

He played in the rest of Sussex's promotion-winning campaign and finished on top of the batting averages with 53.27.

Last season proved it was no flash in the pan either.

With Ward retired to the commentary box he forged a new opening partnership with Prior. His partner was still more likely to play the big shots - but it was Montgomerie whose consistency has proved invaluable.

He made two hundreds to help Sussex reach the final of the C&G Trophy where, after losing in two finals with Northamptonshire, he was finally able to celebrate Lord's success.

This season he has already made back-to-back hundreds in the same competition as well as 175 in the Championship. They are the only centuries made by a Sussex batsman so far.

That's five one-day hundreds in less than two years. He had only scored four in a decade before that breakthrough against Somerset.

Monday's effort, allbeit in a losing cause against Gloucestershire, was one of his best.

He made exactly 100 off just 86 balls before getting out to the next ball. Montgomerie was once regarded essentially as a bottom-handed leg side player but not any more.

One over in particular from Ian Fisher summed up the new Monty. Having driven the left-arm spinner back down the ground, he rocked onto the back foot to punch the ball to the cover boundary before playing a delicate reverse-lap off the next delivery. For Monty, serving the team means more than personal satisfaction which is why he was do disappointed afterwards that Gloucestershire had won by one wicket with a ball to spare.

The best he could offer about his own performance was: "I was very pleased - 86 balls for a hundred, I was blocking it!"

The key, he says, as well as expanding his range of strokes, is adopting a more relaxed attitude.

He said: "In the past when it was raining I would have fretted a lot before we went out about conditions but I feel quite relaxed at the moment.

"When we got out there I got a couple of inside edges and I was away. It's so frustrating because we were the better side for most of the game."

How Sussex have needed his runs so far this season - in both forms of the game.

Coach Mark Robinson acknowledges his contribution whilst hoping his man can maintain his consistent form, despite the distractions of running a benefit.

"Monty has been outstanding this season," he said. "The hundreds he has got have helped us cement our innings. We won two of those matches and should have won the third on Monday.

"Opening the batting is a tough job and sometimes Monty has not got the rewards he deserves so it was nice for him."