Before this game, their record was played three, lost three - all conceded by Saturday evening, and without any batting points as consolation. Curiously, though, they had bagged every bowling point available.
So, having developed a taste for Mondays off, this time they were determined to earn a lie-in. A patient hundred by Paul Terry and a much-needed return to form by Robin Smith, who does not accept that his England career is over, were the basis of a massive first innings.
Sussex, sitting halfway up the table, were adrift as play began, seven wickets down and needing 242 to avoid following on.
Ian Salisbury, captaining Sussex following Alan Wells's elevation to the England squad, frustrated Hampshire's hopes of quickly folding up the first innings with an adhesive morning partnership with Paul Jarvis. They were given a testing work-out by the lively bowling of Cardigan Connor and James Bovill, Jarvis fielding an eye- watering blow in the box from Bovill, but once they were parted the Sussex innings was as good as over. They followed on in mid-morning, 338 behind.
Hampshire's most successful first-innings bowler was John Stephenson, and his tally mounted during the afternoon. Stephenson was hired from Essex as a batsman, and while he has been horribly out of form in this respect - 58 runs in the Championship - he has been earning his wages with bustling swing bowling. Hampshire, without Shaun Udal or Raj Maru, used no spin, relying on their seam quartet.
Had they listened to the early forecast, Sussex might have hoped that rain, threatening to sweep in from the west, could have helped them eke out a draw. But the day stayed bright until early evening, by which time the game - in spite of cameo resistance once again from Salisbury and an ebullient Jarvis - was lost.
Hampshire's wicketkeeper Adrian Aymes took seven catches, including a spectacular porpoise dive to leg in dismissing Franklyn Stephenson, and the Zimbabwean Test bowler Heath Streak did his best day's work so far for his new club. Hampshire's season is under way at last.Reuse content