However good their morning was it has to be said that Hampshire suffered something of a dog day afternoon. Jimmy Adams and John Crawley had made a serious fist of the reply either side of lunch as they added a solid 92 for the fourth wicket.
But having guided Hampshire safely and confidently into the middle of the afternoon session, and with things seeming well set for the home side, the County Champions got the breakthrough for which they had been striving.
Adams had just reached fifty off a patient 117 balls, in which were included seven boundaries, when he got a ball from Robin Martin-Jenkins that appeared to keep a little low and he fell lbw.
As is often the case when a big partnership is broken Crawley did not last much longer. Perhaps jolted by the interruption to what had been a relatively smooth ride when Crawley got a good ball from Sussex seamer Ragheb Aga in the very next over, the ball did just enough to leave the batsman but find the edge of his bat and the wicketkeeper Matt Prior snapped up the catch.
It was Aga’s maiden Championship wicket and given that the Sussex attack had been hit by injuries to Jason Lewry and James Kirtley, not to mentioned the enforced withdrawal of their Australian signing Ryan Harris, it was encouraging to see the way Aga and, in the chilly morning, Chris Liddle had performed. It was left to Michael Lumb and Nic Pothas to steer Hampshire to within 130 runs at tea.
The vexed question of Harris, who is still at The Rose Bowl, has still not been clarified, although Sussex are resigned to losing him following reports in Australia that he had signed for Queensland Bulls.
There is a fear that if he has done so, although Sussex believe that Harris has only entered into a verbal agreement with the State side, then it throws into question whether Harris has reverted to being an Australian, and therefore, from a Sussex standpoint, an overseas player, rather than playing (as he was originally recruited by the South Coast club) as the holder of a British passport. The whole issue is now being investigated by Sussex’s legal team.
Meanwhile the ban on dogs imposed by Hampshire provoked some reaction among members, with one wag in the crowd suggesting that the offending canine deposit, the discovery of which had prompted the club to close its doors to man’s best friend, had been left there by one of the dogs employed by Hampshire’s security company.