Steven Croft is confident that Lancashire can bounce back after a difficult opening day to their LV= County Championship title defence against Sussex at Liverpool today.
The Red Rose all-rounder, who top-scored with 50 off 96 balls, was involved in a disappointing collapse to 124 all out on a juicy early April pitch before watching Sussex respond strongly with 137-3 from 41 overs.
Sussex seamer James Anyon picked up five wickets for the second time in a week after his haul during the defeat against Surrey at the Oval before Mike Yardy and Ed Joyce set about a frustrating recovery from 15-3 just after tea.
Lancaster-born Anyon was the main protagonist as Sussex took full advantage of winning an important toss, taking two of the first three wickets to fall as the Red Rose slipped to 16-3 inside 13 overs.
The 28 year-old former Warwickshire man, who has played some club cricket for Preston, removed Paul Horton, Ashwell Prince, Karl Brown, Glen Chapple and Kyle Hogg on the way to 5-36 from 14.2 overs.
Yardy and Joyce, who will resume tomorrow morning on 70 and 48 not out respectively, then shared an unbroken 122 for the fourth wicket.
"That was a tough day," said Croft. "We'd have liked to have got over 200, which we thought was competitive at the time. We started well with the ball, but they dug in towards the end.
"Hopefully we can knock them over as quickly as possible in the morning.
"We were in this position quite a few times last year, so hopefully we can get stuck in and go from there. If we can knock them over with a lead less than 100, that will be a bonus for us.
"It looks a tough task numbers wise, but we've done it before. Hopefully our experience will get us somewhere close."
After Australian debutant Steve Magoffin (2-21 from 16) had bowled Stephen Moore, shouldering arms in the tenth over, Anyon had Horton caught in the slips and Prince caught behind by Ben Brown.
Croft, who shared an innings high stand of 41 with Chapple for the seventh wicket, hit four fours and a six over mid-wicket off Monty Panesar. But, unfortunately, it was not enough as Anyon and Amjad Khan returned to mop up the tail.
Anyon had Chapple caught and bowled before Amjad had Sajid Mahmood and Croft caught behind. Anyon then returned to polish off the innings with the wicket of Hogg, caught at deep mid-wicket.
Croft was right when he said "we probably got the worst of the pitch conditions" and Gareth Cross was mightily unlucky to be given out lbw for a golden duck off Magoffin when the ball looked to be sailing over the top.
But there is no hiding the fact that 124 is a below par score.
Pretty soon after Sussex started their reply, it looked as if they would be below par too because Hogg, Chapple and Mahmood all struck inside 12 overs of the reply.
Hogg forced Chris Nash to drive to cover, Chapple trapped Luke Wells lbw and Mahmood bowled Murray Goodwin off an inside edge either side of tea to raise home spirits.
But Yardy, who later reached 50 off 60 balls, counter-attacked with effect as he took three fours off Mahmood's third over, while Joyce was quite happy to be patient and watchful as he accumulated.
Lancashire started the game having chosen England Lions man Simon Kerrigan ahead of Gary Keedy as their spin option, while Tom Smith missed out due to a slight hamstring strain.
On his own performance, Croft added: "I was quite pleased, although I'd have liked to have converted it into a hundred. I felt in good rhythm, and I'm looking forward to the second innings."
Photos (c) Simon Pendrigh & Barry Mitchell
Article (c) Lancashire CCC