Luke Wells continued his impressive start to the season with a second successive century at Hove as Sussex dominated the first day against Worcestershire.
The visitors, who have won their first four games in the Specsavers County Championship, employed eight bowlers after putting Sussex in but Wells led a spirited response by a side still coming to terms with Luke Wright’s decision to step down as captain on Wednesday and who have lost three of their four matches so far.
The left-hander followed up his career-best 258 at Hove a fortnight ago with an unbeaten 139 while Harry Finch (82) and Stiaan van Zyl (54) gave him excellent support as Sussex ended the first day on 339 for 3.
Worcestershire bowled tidily enough but Finch blunted their efforts to make early inroads by compiling his highest Championship score before Wells and van Zyl took full toll of a tiring attack later in the day.
Wright’s replacement Chris Nash has struggled this season but looked to have found some form as he helped Finch negate the new ball threat before tamely picking out mid-wicket when he mis-timed a pull off Joe Leach on 22.
But that was Worcestershire’s only success before lunch as Finch and Wells, cautiously at first before picking up the pace in the afternoon, added 125 in 35 overs for the second wicket.
Finch’s 50 came off 90 balls and having made played few false shots it was a surprise when Josh Tongue drew him forward at the start of a new spell and found the edge to slip after Finch had struck 11 fours.
But as the ball softened and neither swung or deviated much off the seam, Wells and van Zyl settled in to put on 137 in 37 overs either side of tea. Wells took two off Nathan Lyon, the Australia off-spinner, to reach the 15th hundred of his career and once past the landmark he went on the offensive, just as he had done against Durham.
One short-armed jab from a perfectly respectable Leach delivery outside off stump that whistled first-bounce to the mid-wicket boundary was the shot of a player in prime form while South African van Zyl looked just as assured until he was bowled off an inside edge by Ed Barnard just after Worcestershire had taken the new ball.
Wright pulled Barnard for six to get off the mark and a further four boundaries in an unbeaten 27 while the hugely impressive Wells has so far faced 255 balls and hit 20 fours.