Hampshire’s battle against the leg spin of Mushtaq Ahmed on a chill morning, was overshadowed by the news that Hampshire have banned dogs from the ground.
This followed the discovery of a canine deposit somewhere on Hampshire’s green and pristine grounds, where that leaves the roe deer and rabbits, not to mention the large and varied avian population is anyone’s guess.
But the pack of hounds Hampshire would probably have gladly barred from their pastures were the top dogs of reigning County Champions Sussex.
It did take some 50 minutes for Sussex to winkle out the nightwatchman James Tomlinson, by which time he and Michael Brown had added a further 41 runs to the overnight total of 4-1.
Tomlinson, who played some more than decent shots in his 45-ball innings, turned a ball from left arm seamer Chris Liddle straight into Murray Goodwin’s hands at square leg. Not a poor stroke by any means, the batsman was just unfortunate in his placement. His innings of 21 was just two short of his career best, scored against the Indians six years ago, and was a useful contribution to the Hampshire cause, not only in terms of runs, but also in seeing off the still virtually new ball, to give the specialist batsmen a modicum of an edge over the Sussex attack.
That was Liddle’s first wicket for Sussex since joining them in the winter before last, a fact reduced in significance when it is realised that this is only Liddle’s third Championship match since joining from Leicestershire 12-months ago.
That minor breakthrough preceded a far more important wicket, when the Pakistani prestidigitateur Mushtaq wove his magic to have Brown lbw when the batsman tried to force the ball wide of mid-on.
Progress was understandably slower thereafter as Jimmy Adams and John Crawley dug in, determined not to depart before the interval, which was reached without further loss. The fourth wicket pair brought up the 100 in the over before lunch, which was bowled by Robin Martin-Jenkins. When they went in for lunch the Sussex lead had been reduced to 228.
A further report at tea will follow...