Sussex’s new kid on the block Jofra Archer again proved why the county have invested in his talents, with a rip-roaring spell that reduced Glamorgan to 252 all out on Day One in Cardiff. Chris Nash and Ed Joyce then drove the visitors to a commanding position by the close, as Sussex finished just 141 runs behind Glamorgan.
Archer bowled with pace and precision in taking four wickets, before the rock-solid opening duo ground down the Glamorgan attack, ending a frustrating day for the Welsh county, who were under-par with both bat and ball.
The home side found themselves in an all-too familiar position when, after captain Jacques Rudolph was snaffled by Ben Brown down the leg side, they were 18/2 in a heartbeat. Nick Selman had already fallen for a fourth consecutive Championship duck, castled by Steve Magoffin.
The Welsh county’s top order have struggled all season and it was no surprise to see Luke Wright’s decision to bowl first pay immediate dividends on a sporty pitch at The SSE SWALEC.
Glamorgan’s plight got worse before it got better. David Lloyd nicked a good ball from David Wiese to Danny Briggs at slip – via a ricochet off second slip Nash – and Will Bragg followed suit, edging to Wiese for Magoffin’s second scalp. Both men went for 14 and hearts were fluttering in the Glamorgan dressing room at 45/4.
That rapidly became 58/5 when Craig Meschede fell in similar fashion – another catch for Briggs whose left-arm spin wasn’t required on an enjoyable morning for the Sussex seamers.
Graham Wagg then grasped the Glamorgan innings by the bootlaces, heaving and hustling his way to a breezy half-century. He lost his first partner Aneurin Donald who was clean up by Archer, after the two added 50 for the sixth wicket. Wagg then swiped at the turf in frustration when Wiese took a smart grab off his own bowling to stick Glamorgan back in trouble at 150/7.
It was difficult to gauge the depth of mire in which Glamorgan were stuck, but with clear skies and scorching Welsh weather, Head Coach Robert Croft would have had something in excess of 300 in his mind. It looked a long way off at 2pm.
Yet the arrival of recent Championship hero Owen Morgan, who joined county stalwart Mark Wallace, appeared to ignite the Glamorgan innings.
Morgan proved himself a stubborn young batsman with a century as nightwatchman last week, which inspired Glamorgan to victory over Worcestershire. And again, the 22-year-old stuck around on a sweltering afternoon in Cardiff, adding 62 for the eight wicket with Wallace.
The wicket-keeper batsman played fluently for 61 off 59 balls but – like Wagg – would have been disappointed to reach a half-century and then fall in soft fashion. Wallace top-edged an attempted pull shot which was simply caught by ‘keeper Ben Brown, as Archer got a third victim.
Partnerships of 54 (Donald and Wagg), 44 (Wagg and Wallace) and 62 (Wallace and Morgan) were vital in helping the hosts secure a second batting bonus point. Glamorgan owe so much to their lower order this season that the top order are surely requesting payday loans to bail them out.
Michael Hogan was the last man to fall, after slogging a quickfire 19 to propel Glamorgan to a second batting bonus point. Morgan was stranded on 32 not out but 252 all out represented an under-par score form the hosts.
Archer was their tormentor in-chief, rifling the ball down from the Cathedral Road and clinching a Championship best 4/91 in tandem with the metronomic Magoffin and Wiese, who extracted plenty of bounce from a green-tinged deck.
Nash and Joyce then did what they do best. They were patient yet punishing in their approach, seizing on anything short or wide. Nash reached his seventh half-century of the season with a trademark flourish through backward point.
And though the South Coast side lost Joyce three runs shy of his 50, they went back to their hotel in the knowledge that a formidable position in this game had already been secured, a quarter of the way through.
For Glamorgan, early wickets tomorrow morning will be a bare minimum if they are to launch a(nother) recovery.