Honours even as wickets tumble at Bristol
Gloucestershire 128 v Sussex 152
ECB pitch inspector Jack Birkenshaw was again an interested spectator at Bristol as 20 wickets fell on another action-packed opening day of the County Championship Division Two match.
James Franklin claimed 4 for 27 as Gloucestershire bowled out Sussex for 152 then Rana Naved and Corey Collymore took three wickets each to reduce the home side to 128 all out in reply.
Birkenshaw decided against recommending a points deduction for Gloucestershire after their opening game of the season at the same venue had seen 23 wickets fall on the same day.
This time he observed that there was less grass on the pitch and again attributed the carnage more to swing, good bowling and poor shot selection than any problem with the surface. "It looks fine to me" he said, and he will not be returning on Thursday.
Pointedly, Sussex opted to bat after winning the toss and seemed to be cruising at 61 without loss when Michael Thornely was caught behind off Gemaal Hussain for 25. Barely a ball had gone past the bat up to that point but it was 76 for 2 when Chris Nash, the day's top scorer with 47, fell lbw to Steve Kirby and 100 for three when Joe Gatting (14) edged Alex Gidman to wicketkeeper Jonathan Batty.
Franklin took his first wicket by pinning Matt Prior lbw for two and at lunch the visitors were 107 for 4. Hussain then removed Andrew Hodd for a single before Franklin hit a purple patch, dismissing Robin Martin-Jenkins (two), Murray Goodwin (24) and Naved (10) in the space of 15 balls at a cost of just six runs.
The New Zealand all-rounder got the ball to swing and nip off the seam. But soon it was his team-mates facing an all too familiar batting collapse as openers Batty and Abdul-Kadeer Ali both fell to Collymore before tea, which was taken at 34 for 2.
Birkenshaw made another close inspection of the pitch during that interval, but still pronounced himself satisfied before watching another sorry procession of home batsmen. Steve Snell was bowled playing over a ball from Martin Jenkins, who then trapped Gidman lbw aiming across the line.
Joe Anyon had Hamish Marshall and Chris Taylor dropped as Gloucestershire were put to the sword. Marshall eventually departed lbw to a ball from Anyon which nipped back and at 75 for 5 the home side were in deep trouble.
Chris Dent had been held back because of a stomach illness and he soon became the day's ninth lbw victim with Naved the successful bowler. He followed up by having Franklin taken in the slips for two.
Taylor battled away for 37 and Jon Lewis and Hussain did their best at the end but Gloucestershire were bowled out 24 runs behind.