Sussex 79 for 3 trail Glamorgan 294 (Meschede 87, Selman 58, Robinson 4-46, Archer 3-67, Jordan 3-82) by 215 runs
Warmed by the sun and a little surprised by their joy, the Bank Holiday crowd settled thankfully into their cricket and watched Craig Meschede make 87 on the first afternoon of this match. Some of the men discarded their polo shirts and few folk of either sex sought the shadow of the trees dotted around the Penrhyn Avenue ground.
Perhaps the Bank Holiday had something to do with all this contentment; a more likely cause, though, was the return of the County Championship and, more persuasively still, the fact that an inexperienced Glamorgan team were making a half-decent fist of things.
A first-innings total of 294 did not seem likely when the teams were announced and Sussex had opted to bowl. Moreover, the taking of two prime wickets plus that of the nightwatchman, Danny Briggs, in the 18 overs before the close merely added to the Welsh pleasure. This match is evenly poised.
"Digwyddiad Gwych Arall" trumpets the slogan on the tents and gazebos Conway Borough Council have supplied for this game. "Another Great Event". "You think so?" Glamorgan supporters might have replied when they pondered their side this morning. "We'll be the judges of that." Five of the players expected to play at T20 Finals Day on Saturday were omitted; "rested" would imply they had been working hard over the past month or so, which is surely stretching it.
As a compensation for supporters such as Swansea's Balconiers, seven of the side captained by Michael Hogan were either born or raised in Wales. All the same, many feared the game would be as uncontested as the toss. The portents were not good: Sussex had a full-strength team and Glamorgan had their minds on the hwyl of Edgbaston.
The early exchanges justified such foreboding: Owen Morgan was leg before when playing across the line to Jofra Archer, giving the Sussex bowler his 50th championship wicket of the season, and the Glamorgan debutant Jack Murphy lasted five runless balls before being taken by Chris Nash at slip, also off Archer. When 20-year-old Aneurin Donald, who can be classed as a senior player in this line-up, was caught behind off a good ball from Ollie Robinson, Glamorgan were 24 for 3 inside ten overs.
Yet that was as near to embarrassment as Hogan's batsmen came. Nick Selman and Kiran Carlson added 72 for the fourth wicket before Carlson was leg before to a full length ball from Archer a quarter of an hour before lunch. For the most part Sussex's bowlers strove a little too anxiously for their side's good after taking those early wickets. As if aware of the responsibilities placed upon them, they perhaps thought that the situation required more than a tight line and the exploitation of early moisture.
Selman and Carlson capitalised on the consequent lack of discipline by driving firmly and letting the short boundaries and quick outfield do the rest. By 12.30 Ben Brown had even posted a third man, which has become something of a Sabine's gull among fielding positions. Carlson's lovely cover-drive off Chris Jordan seemed to capture the relieved mood. A lunch score of 112 for 4 scarcely represented prosperity but it justified something more than the consumption of funeral meats.
The first hour of the afternoon's play saw the removal of both Nick Selman for a well-made 57 and Andrew Salter for 13, yet the session itself belonged to Glamorgan and in particular to Meschede and Tom Cullen, whose 108-run stand for the seventh wicket changed the temper of the contest. To a degree, though, Sussex had only themselves to blame. The discipline that had characterised their cricket in the first hour was abandoned as overthrows were conceded, misfields committed and runs leaked. Deliveries such as that bowled by Jordan which nipped off the pitch and clipped Selman's off stump became exceptions rather than the rule
Meschede capitalised on these errors and also twice lifted Danny Briggs into the vicinity of the russet roofs on Penrhyn Avenue. He drove the Sussex seamers when their attacking lengths became little more than half-volleys and the electric scoreboard was only halted for long when it malfunctioned. Meschede's partner Cullen, who was also making his second championship appearance, offered fine support and perhaps deserved more than the 42 runs he had made when he was leg before to Jordan just after tea. Cullen crouches at the wicket in the manner of a sumo wrestler but he is a slight fellow and it is as well he lets his bat do the aggressing.
Sussex's bowlers seemed revived by the second interval; perhaps they had simply been reminded of their responsibilities and of first principles. In any event, they took Glamorgan's last four wickets in seven overs, Meschede being the last of them when bowled by a Robinson, who finished the innings with four wickets and roared in triumph at the last of them.
But if Glamorgan supporters were disappointed not to see Meschede make a century they were revived when Lukas Carey snaked one between Luke Wells bat and pad and again when Stiaan van Zyl edged Meschede to Cullen behind the stumps. What may yet turn out to be a historic week in Glamorgan's history had begun with a day's cricket worth recalling for heartwarming reasons.