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Page last updated at 16:19 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 17:19 UK

Sussex on top at wet Old Trafford

CLOSE OF PLAY, DAY ONE: Lancashire 131-5
(Sussex 1pt)
2-5 September 2009

Lancashire v Sussex

Sussex and Lancashire managed just over half a day's play as their Division One clash got underway at Old Trafford.

Sussex restricted the home side to 131-5 when rain forced an end to the day's play shortly before tea.

Mal Loye top scored for Lancashire with 58, West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Smith taking two of the five wickets.

After the furore over Tuesday's rained-off Twenty20 international, despite more overnight rain, play got underway just 15 minutes late.

While both sides have relegation on their minds (fourth-placed Lancashire are only 18 points clear of eighth-placed Sussex), the only thing on most spectators' minds was how the ground would hold up.

Less than 15 hours earlier, the England-Australia game was controversially abandoned without a ball being bowled due to a small damp patch of turf in the midst of the bowler's run up at the Warwick Road End.

It was a decision that did not go down well with Lancashire chief executive Jim Cumbes and one that looked more embarrassing when Wednesday's play started just 15 minutes late.

Umpires Neil Mallender and David Millns and the two captains, fit-again Glen Chapple and Mike Yardy, were happy with the area of contention.

After Lancashire won the toss, Sussex had to wait less than five overs for their first wicket, Paul Horton being caught at first slip.

Loye was then dropped on seven at second slip by Ollie Rayner, who made up for it by catching stand-in opener Luke Sutton.

Smith, who turned in an impressive 2-29 from 13.1 overs, then claimed his first wicket, trapping in-form Indian Test ace VVS Laxman lbw for six to reduce the hosts to 71-3 at lunch.

England and Wales Cricket Board pitch consultant Chris Wood was out in the middle with Cumbes at the break as part of the ongoing investigation into Tuesday night's events.

Only six balls were possible after lunch before a brief rain shower.

When play resumed, Loye reached his half-century off 116 balls. But he then tried to launch off-spinner Rayner's second ball over long-on and succeeded only in skewing to backward point.

Mark Chilton then helped Francois du Plessis add another 26 runs in just less than 14 overs before being caught at first slip. But then the rain intervened late in the afternoon session - and the players did not return.

Lancashire captain Glen Chapple told BBC Manchester:

"With Tom Smith, who's opened all season, being unfit it made for an interesting decision.

"You look for balance from your team. Luke Sutton was playing really well on the opening day against Sussex and it was really disappointing to see him fight so hard and then to get a good ball and nick off.

"So, I was disappointed for Luke, I thought he stood a good chance of getting a big score.

"Next week Tom may be fit and we've another decision to make."

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