Sussex spoil Lancashire homecoming

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Sussex enjoyed a day of dominance at Aigburth as Lancashire’s LV= County Championship title defence began in miserable fashion.

Invited to bat first on a juicy wicket offering seam movement and variable bounce, the Red Rose slumped to 124 all out in 52.2 overs, with only three batsmen reaching double figures.

The powerful James Anyon did much of the damage by returning 5-36, his second straight five-wicket haul, while fellow pacemen Steve Magoffin and Amjad Khan collected two scalps apiece.

Were it not for the efforts of Steven Croft, who showed a level of application many of his team-mates lacked in compiling 50, Lancashire’s position would have been even more perilous.

They did reduce Sussex to 15 for three in reply, but Michael Yardy and Ed Joyce then shared an unbroken partnership of 122 in the evening session to carry the visitors, who were beaten by Surrey last week, into the lead.

Yardy was unbeaten on 70 from 88 deliveries at stumps, while opener Joyce, seemingly content to drop anchor, had 48 to his name.

With clouds lurking this morning, Anyon and new overseas arrival Magoffin threatened on a consistent basis with the new ball and, after a number of close shaves, soon gained deserved reward.

Stephen Moore shouldered arms to a straight one to provide Magoffin with his first Sussex wicket and Anyon had Paul Horton caught at fourth slip by Luke Wells two balls later.

Ashwell Prince got off the mark with a classy straight-driven four, the first boundary of the morning, but failed to add to his score before being squared up by Anyon and caught behind.

Chris Nash, James Anyon & Ashwell Prince

James Anyon delights in the dismissal of Ashwell Prince, the second of his five victims as Lancashire crumbled to 124 all out at Aigburth

Runs remained at a premium as the morning session wore on and Magoffin finished an outstanding opening spell with figures of 10-7-5-1.

When the gangly Australian was eventually handed a breather, Anyon switched ends and pinned Karl Brown lbw as the batsman pushed forward uncertainly.

Croft gradually settled into his stride after a circumspect start and slog-swept Monty Panesar for six after lunch.

However, the England spinner was gifted a wicket later in the same over when Luke Procter attempted to emulate Croft’s shot and succeeded only in picking out backward square-leg.

Gareth Cross failed to survive his first ball, the wicketkeeper-batsman seemingly unfortunate to be given lbw after padding up to a Magoffin delivery that looked to be going over the top.

From the depths of 67 for six, it was left to Croft and skipper Glen Chapple, who also swept Panesar for a maximum, to lead a recovery of sorts with a counter-attacking stand of 41.

Their alliance saw runs flow freely for the first time, but Anyon soon returned to have Chapple caught and bowled for 23, and it was not long before the innings was brought to an end.

Sajid Mahmood and Croft were each guilty of airy wafts outside off stump in being caught behind off Amjad for nought and 50 respectively, while Anyon had Kyle Hogg caught at deep midwicket.

After failing with the bat, Lancashire knew quick wickets were essential and responded impressively.

Chris Nash departed in tame fashion, caught at point off Hogg, while Chapple, named as one of Wisden’s five Cricketers of the Year yesterday, pinned Wells lbw with a full toss as Sussex slipped to four for two.

When Murray Goodwin played on to Sajid Mahmood after tea, the south-coast side were in further trouble and a healthy crowd had witnessed more wickets than boundaries.

Yardy responded positively, however, and relieved much of the pressure by striking Mahmood for three boundaries in the space of four balls.

Hogg was convinced he had Yardy caught behind on 17, yet there was little else to concern Sussex’s captain or Joyce as the two left-handers accumulated steadily for the remainder of a sunlit evening.

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