Bowlers give Joyce fast start
Sussex 22 for 0 trail Worcestershire 162 (Moeen 43, Magoffin 4-34) by 140 runs
Ed Joyce is too experienced a cricketer to imagine that all his days as captain of Sussex will be as pleasurable as this. For a start, he won the toss. Then he made the quite obvious decision to field, for the weather was overcast and the springy pitch likely to give assistance to anyone running down the slope. He could have plucked John Snow out of retirement and wickets would still have fallen.
As it was, in two sessions following rain in the morning, Worcestershire were dismissed for 162. There was more bounce than movement for James Anyon and Steve Magoffin, although there was that, too, and, to the delight of everyone connected with Sussex, Mike Yardy held two excellent catches at second slip the day after relinquishing the captaincy. Evidently he is well relieved to be rid of a task that had become little more than a chore.
No Worcestershire batsman coped with the steepling bounce that Anyon and Amjad Khan, in particular, were able to obtain after play started at 2.15pm. Magoffin, whether through his choice or that of his captain's, bowled up the hill and soon struck: Phillip Hughes was held well, to his left, by Yardy. Then Vikram Solanki, Surrey-bound but still a prominent Worcestershire cricketer, was bowled through being a trifle late in his defensive push.
Daryl Mitchell, with eight runs to his name in 21 overs but at least managing to stay in, edged Khan to the new captain at third slip, James Cameron's off stump was knocked back by Anyon and Matt Pardoe was sharply held by Yardy, also off Anyon. Moeen Ali, the one batsman to make a reasonable score, pulled Magoffin straight to a fielder just in front of square. Only the No. 9, Richard Jones, played an innings of sorts after that.
It was not the greatest display of batsmanship but an ideal start for Joyce in what was the first Championship match Sussex have staged at Hove since the end of May. This was a quicker pitch, too, than was generally the case here last year, no doubt prepared with Anyon's sharpness in mind. Yardy undertook the captaincy for almost four years, giving it up with the blessing of Mark Robinson, the Sussex cricket manager.
"It takes a lot of time and attention. Every day you are absorbed by it and live by it. The pressure takes its toll," Robinson said. "Michael wants to concentrate on his own game."
"You have different types of vice-captain. You may have a young person you are grooming for the future or someone who can step in when needed and that is what we have with Ed. It gives him an opportunity to expand his captaincy skills in the same way that Michael had when he took over from Chris Adams."
Robinson added that Yardy's decision had nothing to do with his well-documented battle with depression.
Joyce had to bat in the seven overs Sussex were left to face under the floodlights, which were turned on not long before the close, but his day was undimmed. There was no deployment of a nightwatchman. He and Chris Nash, with runs aplenty behind him in his last match, also had their difficulties against the moving ball, yet survived.