A green pitch and humid conditions saw wickets tumble on the first day of the Specsavers County Championship Division Two match between Leicestershire and Sussex at the Fischer County Ground.
Sussex captain Ben Brown cannot have thought too long and hard before deciding to exercise the away team’s right to bowl first, and was immediately rewarded when the first delivery of the match, bowled by Steve Magoffin, seamed back and took the inside edge of Paul Horton’s bat before being caught by Brown behind the stumps.
Magoffin and Ollie Robinson continued to beat the bat regularly, but Angus Robson and Neil Dexter added 55 for the second wicket before Robson, on 18, left a delivery from Jofra Archer which both seamed back in and stayed low before knocking off and middle stumps out of the ground.
Magoffin, playing his 150th first-class game, then removed Leicestershire skipper Mark Cosgrove with a well-pitched up delivery that swung back in and trapped the left-hander leg before.
Dexter fought his way through until lunch in the company of Mark Pettini, but after the break the Foxes lost their last seven wickets in adding just 45 runs.
Archer bowled Pettini with a beauty, the ball nipping back to hit to the top of off-stump, and soon after going to his 50 with an expansive cover drive, an attempt to repeat the shot saw Dexter’s off-stump up-rooted by Archer.
Lewis Hill, defending on the back foot, played on to Magoffin, who quickly made it five for the innings by having Clint McKay caught at first slip and bowling Zak Chappell with a ball that seamed back in.
Raine edged a brute of a delivery from Archer, and Eckersley, looking to force the pace, gave mid-on a simple catch off a leading edge.
When Sussex began their reply, Chris Nash and Ed Joyce, both of whom have already passed 1,000 runs in the Championship this season, compiled an opening partnership of 82 before Joyce was bowled by Charlie Shreck, an in-swinger clipping the top of the left-hander’s off-stump.
Nash went to his 50, his eighth of the season, before a late decision to leave a Dexter delivery saw the ball clip the bat and cannon on to the stumps. Luke Wells was drawn into an attempted drive and edged Shreck to wicketkeeper Eckersley, and Dexter, pitching the ball up and swinging it away from the right-handers, went on to complete his first five wicket haul for the Foxes, having Craig Cachopa and Fynn Hudson-Prentice caught behind, and Phil Salt and David Wiese leg before to keep his side in the game.
Sussex head coach Mark Davis: “There was a load in the pitch all day, but we bowled much better after lunch than before, Jofra Archer and Steve Magoffin were really good and created pressure from both ends.
“The moment we did that we knocked them over quite quickly and then Chris Nash and Ed Joyce played like they have all year to put on 82 for the first wicket.”