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Bug infestation leaves Sussex considering venue switch for County Championship opener

Daddy long-legs larvae have damaged the outfield at Hove

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Sussex's Championship opener against Lancashire could be switched to Old Trafford  •  PA Images via Getty Images

Sussex's Championship opener against Lancashire could be switched to Old Trafford  •  PA Images via Getty Images

Sussex are considering switching the venue for their first County Championship fixture of the season against Lancashire from Hove to Old Trafford due to a bug infestation.
The teams are due to meet twice within the first four rounds of the season, with Sussex's home game scheduled from April 8-11 at Hove and the return fixture at Old Trafford from April 29-May 2. But the clubs have been discussing the possibility of reversing the venues while the Hove groundstaff deal with a plague of larvae that has damaged the outfield.
It is understood that the bugs in question are leatherjackets, the larvae of European crane flies (more commonly known as daddy long-legs). They lay their eggs in soil, which then hatch out and feed on the roots of plants - in this case, the grass on the outfield. The square, however, has not been damaged.
The insecticide that was commonly used to treat the issue has been banned in the UK since 2016, but Sussex are hopeful that it will only be a short-term problem, and remain confident that their home fixture against Yorkshire on April 22 will be able to go ahead as planned. A firm decision on the venue for the season opener will be made at the end of next week.
A Sussex spokesperson said: "We're making good progress on getting the outfield ready for the start of the season and remain hopeful of hosting Lancashire at The 1st Central County Ground as planned. We will assess the conditions at the end of next week and the two clubs will then make a decision on where the fixture will be played.
"Because both the LV= Insurance County Championship fixtures between Sussex and Lancashire will be played behind closed doors, if the home and away matches are switched, spectators would not be affected. Our thanks go to Lancashire for their understanding and cooperation in this matter."
Lancashire were contacted for comment.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98