It might not have been quite cloak and dagger, but the start of Sussex's defence of their title still featured the mystery of the missing player, plus a man named Bond who was armed with a lethal weapon – the ball – and licensed to thrill.
The day began with the mystery. Australian Ryan Harris, who only last week had been given the all-clear by the ECB to play for Sussex by virtue of holding a British passport through his father, was pulled out of the Sussex starting line-up. It took his county nearly all day to explain. Sussex are apparently worried by reports in Australia that Harris had signed a deal with Queensland Bulls.
This had raised fears that the 28-year-old may have been signed by the Bulls as an Australian, which meant he had become an overseas player at Sussex. The withdrawal was clearly a precautionary measure while the county investigates.
Once the game started it was an overseas player, Hampshire's Kiwi fast bowler Shane Bond, and Sussex's solitary Kolpak signing Murray Goodwin, who grabbed the limelight.
Bond lived up to his fictional namesake, even down to the figure seven – his haul of wickets – proving an agent of doom for the Sussex batsmen, but in Goodwin he found his version of Blofeld. The Zimbabwe-born Goodwin emulated his feat of seven years ago when he scored one of the earliest hundreds on this ground in its inaugural season.
Thanks to Goodwin's patient century, Sussex were at least able to boast three batting bonus points. He resisted for almost four hours, and when he departed Bond was denied his wicket, Goodwin choosing to have a horrible mow across the line to Chris Tremlett.
Hampshire bagged maximum bowling points thanks to a blistering burst late in the afternoon, which saw Bond produce a wicked spell of five for five in 17 deliveries. His full return of 7-66 was a career best for Bond, who is with Hampshire for just their first five Championship matches.Reuse content