Sussex off to a strong start against Leicestershire

Leicestershire 210, Sussex 39-1

Sussex overcame the loss of England seamer Ollie Robinson to food poisoning and dismissed Leicestershire for just 210.

The home side’s captain Colin Ackermann chose to bat first on a good if dry pitch at the Upton Steel County Ground in Leicester.

Robinson managed just a single over at half pace before leaving the field but the Sussex attack responded impressively to adversity, bowling tightly and taking advantage of the lack of confidence in the Leicestershire batting line-up.

Henry Crocombe and Aaron Beard both took three wickets and there were two victims for left-arm spinner Delroy Rawlins.

It took a battling display for Leicestershire’s lower order to secure a single batting bonus point for the hosts who in their six first innings this season have passed 300 only once.

Left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson did strike in the final over, having Sussex opener Tom Alsop caught at slip to give Leicestershire hope going forward.

Ackermann and batter Lewis Hill came back into the Leicestershire side, having recovered from a bruised hand and fractured thumb respectively.

Meanwhile, Sussex were without Mohammad Rizwan because of a family bereavement and loanee Mason Crane, recalled by his home county Hampshire. They were also without Robinson for much of the day after his single very tentative opening over.

It mattered not, as the Sussex bowlers tied down Leicestershire openers Hassan Azad and Sam Evans before Evans pushed at a delivery from Crocombe that he might have left, edging a straightforward catch to Tom Clark at second slip.

Sussex skipper Tom Haines was particularly parsimonious, conceding just five runs in his six-over spell.

But Azad, in partnership with Rishi Patel, looked set to see the home side through until lunch before pushing a delivery from Rawlins into the offside and – having raised an interrogatory hand – being called for a single by Patel.

Given that Azad is not the fastest of runners at the best of times, it was to say the least an ill-judged risk – and Alsop, running from slip towards back point, got his throw back to Rawlins in time to beat the Foxes opener home.

Having seen their side record three run-outs in their first innings at Glamorgan last week, including Azad, Leicestershire supporters found another such dismissal hard to credit.

Matters did not improve for the home side after the interval. Patel edged a lifting delivery from Beard to second slip before Ackermann chopped Haines into his stumps to leave Leicestershire on 104-4.

Hill tried to force the pace, reaching 35 at a run a ball before top-edging a cut at Crocombe high down to third man where Archie Lenham held an outstanding catch a foot or so off the ground.

Harry Swindells went quickly, leg before to a Rawlins delivery that hit him on the back leg. The in-form Ben Mike tried to force a Crocombe delivery off the back foot before he had scored, succeeding only to the extent that he edged to first slip.

Only Wiaan Mulder could be said to have been a little unlucky. The South Africa international was caught behind the wicket down the legside trying to help a Rawlins delivery to the boundary.

Parkinson and Chris Wright showed their predecessors what could be achieved, playing straight and putting together a partnership of 49 for the ninth wicket before Wright went leg before to Crocombe.

Beuran Hendricks also gave Parkinson worthwhile support before top-edging a pull to be caught at deep square leg.

With the pitch looking sure to take spin as the game goes on, the possibility of a positive result in a match involving two sides who have yet to win this season is a strong one.

Sussex bowling coach James Kirtley said: “Watching Ollie (Robinson) have to leave the field after one over, we knew our bowling unit would have to stand up – and seeing Henry Crocombe, Aaron Beard and Sean Hunt run in like they did and take the responsibility they did and show the maturity they did was fantastic. They were smart when they needed to be.

“Leicestershire got off to a bit of a start but we wrestled back control, supported by Tom Haines and the two spinners, and it’s another sign of the progress we’re making. Performances like that show the potential.

“You know it’s a good pitch when the opposition win the toss and bat. Leicestershire know the pitches here and clearly thought batting first would give them best use of it. We caught really well too – that was massively important – and despite the wicket falling at the end, it was a good day for us.”

Leicestershire bowler Callum Parkinson said: “A frustrating day because we’re repeating errors. We had the game by the scruff of the neck at 69-1 but then we have a soft run-out and a couple of soft dismissals and we’re on the back foot.

“We’ve got to give ourselves a chance to get into games and you don’t often do that when you don’t score big first innings runs. But we showed some good character towards the end of our innings and then picked up a late wicket so that gave us a bit of a lift towards the end of the day.

“If we can pick up a couple of quick wickets tomorrow, we can hopefully get into their young batting order. It felt like a decent enough pitch to bat on. We just have to do the basics better than we have been doing.”

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