Sussex had the better of a rain ruined opening day of the County Championship match at Old Trafford, with Lancashire reaching 131-5 before the umpires called off the day at 4.25pm.
Former West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Smith returned figures of 2-29 from 13.1 overs, trapping VVS Laxman lbw and forcing Mark Chilton to edge to captain Mike Yardy at first slip.
In-form Mal Loye top scored with 58 off 127 balls, including eleven fours, after Red Rose skipper Glen Chapple won the toss and elected to bat this morning.
“I think we could have done with losing one or two less wickets, but we were starting to build partnerships,” said Chapple.
Play started 15 minutes late after a shower just before the scheduled start, but Sussex had to wait less than five overs for their first wicket, that of Paul Horton caught at first slip by Yardy off ex-West Indies pace bowler Corey Collymore for six.
Loye was dropped on seven by Olly Rayner at second slip off Collymore, an expensive drop as the batsman went onto pass 50 for the seventh time this summer.
Makeshift opener Luke Sutton was the second wicket to go, caught at second by Rayner off Martin-Jenkins for 17 to leave the score at 50-2 in the 18th. And Smith claimed his first wicket, and Sussex’s third, when he trapped Laxman lbw for six to reduce the hosts to 71-3 at lunch.
Sutton, back in his familiar role as a foot soldier thanks to the return of Chapple after seven weeks out with a foot injury, proved to be Horton’s fourth different opening partner in four consecutive matches.
Chapple explained: “It’s true that the balance of the side has been affected by Tom (Smith) not playing, and each time we go into a game we look at the best way of coming out with a win.
“At the moment we don’t have an opening batsman. Mal has done it for most of his career, but he and Laxman have both been scoring a lot of runs at No.3 and No.4.. In this particular game we thought that Luke stood a good chance of batting against the new ball because he has a good technique. He was playing really well today.”
Only six balls were possible after lunch before a brief rain shower, and Loye reached his half-century off 116 balls when play resumed. But, as he tried to launch off-spinner Rayner’s second ball over long-on, he was horrified to see the ball loop to Indian leg-spinner Piyush Chawla at backward point off an outside edge.
Lancashire were tottering at 105-4 in the 43rd before another ten minute rain break. Chilton and Francois du Plessis added another 26 runs in just less than 14 overs before the former was well caught at first slip by Yardy off the medium pace of Smith for 26.
Lancashire could not add to 131-5 when rain forced the players off the field late in the afternoon session.
Chapple added: “The pitch had a reasonable bit of nip, but it’s a good cricket pitch. It requires a good partnership in the morning. We’re not in a terrible position, but we need a good partnership to get into a good one.”
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd