Steve Smith and Ollie Robinson combine to put Sussex in control against Glamorgan
Ashes rivals Steve Smith and Ollie Robinson combined to put Sussex in a commanding position after day one of their County Championship Division Two contest with Glamorgan.
England seamer Robinson did the early damage with four for 29, which included the prize scalp of Australian Marnus Labuschagne for one, to dismiss visiting Glamorgan for 123.
It enabled a bumper crowd at Hove of around 2,000 spectators, far more than the fixtures with Durham and Yorkshire, to see overseas star Smith in action and he did not disappoint.
The Aussie spent more than two-and-a-half hours at the crease for his 68 not out off 126 balls to help Sussex close on 221 for four.
After being rested last week, Robinson was immediately into his stride after Sussex captain Cheteshwar Pujara won the toss and fielded in this star-studded Division Two fixture.
New-ball partner Aristides Karvelas actually made the breakthrough when Eddie Byrom could not handle his extra bounce and departed for five to bring about the first instalment of a battle that will be a key part of the summer.
Labuschagne walked to the crease to good applause but was on his way back three balls later.
Glamorgan’s overseas batter got off the mark with a quick single off Karvelas to ensure he was on strike for the start of Robinson’s sixth over.
Robinson had four slips, including Smith, but attacked the stumps and pinned the Australian in front for a mere single with an appeal hardly necessary.
England will hope it is a sign of things to come.
Pujara took Robinson out of the attack after his six overs produced one for 10, but his team-mates backed up his efforts.
Fynn Hudson-Prentice dismissed Sam Northeast with his third delivery and Tom Haines ended the rear-guard efforts of first-class debutant Zain ul-Hassan, who was promoted to open in the absence of David Lloyd and stuck around for 46 balls before he edged behind for 22.
When Haines bowled Billy Root for 18 after a poor leave, Glamorgan were 63 for five and they then saw Robinson recalled and strike with his third ball.
Kiran Carlson was bowled shouldering arms before another Australian in Michael Naser was snarled by Robinson after being rapped on the pads.
There was still time for Robinson to grab his fourth when Timm van der Gugten edged to James Coles to leave the visitors on 83 for eight at lunch.
James Harris offered some resistance with five boundaries in an innings of 28 not out before Karvelas claimed the final two wickets at the start of the afternoon session thanks to two sharp grabs in the slips by Smith.
It raised the possibility that the Hove crowd would get the chance to see Australian great Smith in batting action.
Sussex opening duo Ali Orr and Haines initially set about giving Labuschagne an early look at England’s famed Bazball approach with 29 runs plundered off the first three overs.
While the run-rate calmed, Orr continued to find the boundary regularly but another poor leave saw him exit for 40 bowled by Jamie McIlroy and it sparked a mini-collapse that saw the expectant audience get their wish.
Naser dismissed Tom Alsop and Pujara in quick succession, the latter for a rare 11-ball duck, to bring Sussex number five Smith to the crease before a delayed tea.
After scores of 30 and three in his previous two innings at Worcestershire and Leicestershire, the 33-year-old wanted time at the crease before next month’s World Test Championship at Kia Oval.
Once Smith had gone through his idiosyncrasies, he quickly found his rhythm with a punch for four followed by a drive through extra cover for another boundary.
It helped Sussex get to 108 for three at tea with Smith taking a liking to Australian team-mate Naser.
Haines had provided solid support and reached his half-century off 58 balls at the start of a subdued evening session where the runs dried up.
A broken bat for Haines produced a further lull before he edged to Naser at second slip, which brought teenager Coles to the crease.
Smith had dropped anchor by this point with just two runs off 25 balls but a flick off his hips down to fine leg moved him into the thirties.
A crunch through mid-wicket off Ul-Hassan saw the runs flowing again before a sumptuous cover drive marked an important fifty partnership with England Under-19s batter Coles.
The next punch through the off-side saw Smith reach his own half-century off 98 balls and despite the late introduction of native Labuschagne, he survived to reach the close unbeaten with Coles also not out on exactly 50.
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