Sussex 332 v Hampshire 319-7 (112 overs) Start delayed - rain

While this match was threatening to dribble down the drains of The Rose Bowl the rumours have been buzzing around the ground since the sighting of two Labradors – one black, one yellow – this morning.

It would appear, although there has been no official confirmation of this, that Hampshire CCC has yielded to objections from season ticket holders about their ill-conceived canine crackdown and have rescinded the decision to ban man’s best friend from the arena.

When dog-owning Hampshire supporters arrived here for the start of this rain-ruined County Championship match, they were informed that henceforth dogs were banned from the cricket club precincts.

But season it was argued that when supporters made their long term financial commitment to the club the dog ban had not been on the County’s rule book.

Reason, it would appear, has prevailed. So too, sadly has the weather. Only 11 overs were possible yesterday [Friday] and this morning’s session was a complete write-off. Prospects for any play at all looked bleak and the opening match of Sussex’s title defence looks destined to be abandoned as a draw.

That is hardly the start Sussex would have wanted, although Hampshire, written off as relegation candidates before the season got under way, have competed way beyond everyone else’s expectations.

The departure of Australian leg spinner and former captain Shane Warne was one factor that created the idea that Hampshire would be noticeably weaker this summer, but Hampshire’s new captain Dimitri Mascarenhas does not see it that way.

“People have written us off, which suggests they saw us as a one man team in the past. We don’t see it that way one bit. There's 11 of us going out on that field and as we’ve shown over the first two days, we’re right up there with the best of them. We’re not trying to prove a point to anyone, just to ourselves that we’re as good as anybody else.” The rest of the First Division have been warned.

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