There was a military feel to the day's proceedings. Perhaps because Alan Richardson, the rawest - though by no means youngest - recruit to the Warwickshire attack, underwent cricket's equivalent of "P Company", that gruelling initiation which reveals physical and spiritual stamina and determination.
Richardson, who is in the side because of the enforced absence of the South African fast bowler Allan Donald, was not found wanting in character or fortitude. He did his bit of square bashing, ploughing uphill into a gusting wind for most of his 20 overs, and his reward was the best return of the day, four wickets for 69 runs, including that of the opposition captain, Chris Adams.
Richardson is no spring chicken - he was 25 just six days ago - but his development has been arrested somewhere along the way. He was tried out by Derbyshire, having played for Staffordshire, and even now the Warwickshire coach, Bob Woolmer, is working on his technique, getting him to put more of his body into his action.
He looked lively and awkward at times and managed to get some movement off the pitch, although for the main part his aim was straight and true. That was a surprise since his home debut last season had seen him take eight Gloucestershire wickets (10 in the match) and if he continues in the same vein there could be many more.
But in the face of such accuracy it was all the more puzzling that three Sussex troopers should have chosen to shoulder arms when under fire. At least Tony Cottey had some runs under his belt, contributing 42 to a fourth-wicket stand of 95 with Adams, having rifled half a dozen boundaries. But the opener Richard Montgomerie and, later on, Will House were markedly reluctant to play a shot; it was like shooting ducks at a fairground. Montgomerie held his bat aloft to expose his off stump, which was promptly smacked back, while House just did not fire and he, too, was bowled.
Richardson was not complaining. Adding a notch for Adams just made his day. But the Sussex captain looked dangerous while he was at the crease. Two of his three sixes came off the rookie paceman, both of them savage pulls. His big hit off the slow left armer Ashley Giles was a lofted straight drive that looked destined for the English Channel until it cracked against the Gilligan Stand.
Adams, like the officer he is, led from the front. He was, in the main, disciplined, regimented even. He might have expected more support from Michael Bevan, who has been in thunderously good form in the one-day game, but the Australian fell to a delivery from Ed Giddins that left him and arrived safely in the gloves of Keith Piper.
But with the exception of Cottey, his trusty NCO, and a rugged little rearguard action from the rapidly maturing Robin Martin-Jenkins, the rest of Adams' platoon were found wanting.
The Sussex old boy Giddins, sacked what seems like aeons ago for dabbling in dodgy substances, had a good day on balance. A dozen of his 18 overs were maidens, the other six went for 37 runs, but there were a couple of wickets as well. It will have done him no harm as far as England goes.
And when it was Warwickshire's turn to bat his team-mate Nick Knight, who is also being spoken of in Test terms, underlined his assurance at the crease. He was unhurried, and if not relaxed exactly, then watchful as he saw off the enthusiasm and inevitable venom of Sussex's early onslaught.
When bad light finally drove them off some 20 minutes early Warwickshire had reduced the arrears to 154, although Michael Powell had been snaffled at second slip by Adams and Dominic Ostler had been bowled by a fullish length ball from Martin Jenkins.
The initiative lies marginally with Warwickshire, and Adams will no doubt ensure there are no slackers when his men turn up for parade this morning - weather permitting, of course.
Hove (Day 1 of 4): Warwickshire (4pts) trail Sussex (1) by 154 runs with eight first-innings wickets in hand.
Sussex won toss
Sussex - First Innings
Runs 6s 4s Bls Min
R R Montgomerie b Richardson 6 0 1 13 15 M T E Peirce c Piper b Giddins 10 0 0 37 51 M G Bevan c Knight b Giddins 30 0 3 45 51 *C J Adams lbw b Richardson 70 3 9 120 158 P A Cottey lbw b Richardson 42 0 6 54 73 W J House b Richardson 9 0 2 25 24 R S C Martin-Jenkins c Piper b Brown 31 0 2 71 96 J D Lewry c Piper b Giles 2 0 0 8 10 Ã¿S Humphries hit wicket b Brown 4 0 1 16 17 R J Kirtley c Knight b Brown 2 0 0 5 6 M A Robinson not out 0 0 0 0 2 Extras (lb15 w3) 18 Total (68.2 overs) 224 Fall: 1-7, 2-45, 3-54, 4-149, 5-159, 6-197, 7-206, 8-215, 9-217.
Bowling: E S H Giddins 18-12-37-2, A Richardson 20-3-69-4, A F Giles 16-4-48-1, D R Brown 14.2-0-55-3.
Warwickshire - First Innings
Runs 6s 4s Bls Min
M J Powell c Adams b Robinson 19 0 2 51 55 N V Knight not out 21 0 0 65 101 D P Ostler b Martin-Jenkins 13 0 3 17 19 D L Hemp not out 9 0 2 14 24 Extras (b1 lb1 nb6) 8 Total (for 2, 24 overs) 70 Fall: 1-35, 2-50. To bat: T L Penney, *N M K Smith, Ã¿K J Piper, A F Giles, D R Brown, A Richardson, E S H Giddins.
Bowling: J D Lewry 8-3-19-0, R J Kirtley 4-2-14-0, M A Robinson 9-4-22-1, R S C Martin-Jenkins 3-1-13-1.
Umpires: D J Constant and G Sharp.Reuse content