Stuart Whittingham enjoyed a dream debut at Hove by taking a wicket with his first ball as Sussex’s seamers dominated a rain-affected opening day against Derbyshire.
The Derby-born 22-year-old removed Hamish Rutherford for the third time this season, having dismissed the New Zealander twice on his first appearance in the Specsavers County Championship at Derby three weeks ago.
Whittingham followed it up with the wickets of skipper Wayne Madsen and Matt Critchley either side of a penetrative spell from Ajmal Shahzad, who picked up three wickets in five overs as Derbyshire, who were put in, slumped to 97 for 7.
Shiv Thakor, who made 130 against Kent earlier this week, led a counter-attack with an unbeaten 44 but two late wickets for Steve Magoffin left Derbyshire reeling on 142 for 9 at stumps from 40 overs.
Sussex had won the toss and elected to bowl but ten minutes before the scheduled start heavy storms swept in and play was only able to start at 4pm after a two-hour mopping-up operation.
A pitch with good pace and carry also offered the bowlers some sideways movement, but too many Derbyshire batsmen were complicit in their own downfall including in-form opener Chesney Hughes. The second division’s leading scorer, with 520 runs this season, followed the second ball of the match from Steve Magoffin that moved a touch off the seam and edged to second slip.
Rutherford was dropped at mid-wicket by Ed Joyce in the sixth over on nine but departed when Whittingham took over in the 11th over at the Sea End and immediately produced a full-length delivery which the batsman played all around.
Madsen was then defeated by late away movement and edged to slip for 10 before Shahzad took centre stage.
In his third over he ended 21 overs of careful resistance by skipper Billy Godleman (17) whose first false shot, a loose drive to cover, was held low down by Luke Wells.
Nick Broome (22) started confidently before an expansive drive at a ball well outside off stump resulted in a head-high catch at second slip for Chris Nash.
Shahzad then produced a beauty which pitched on middle and broke Tom Poynton’s off stump. He might have had a fourth wicket Shiv Thakor was put down at gully by Matt Machan when he’d scored just nine.
Whittingham returned to the attack to have Matt Critchley (3) held at square leg but in the same over Thakor twice deposited him over the mid-wicket boundary for six to signal a spirited counter-attack.
Thakor added 44 for the eighth wicket with Tom Taylor before Taylor was caught at third man upper-cutting Magoffin, who then had Tony Palladino taken at second slip later in the penultimate over on a dispiriting day for Derbyshire.
Whittingham said: “It’s funny, I’m a Derby lad and watched my first cricket aged eight when Derbyshire played West Indies and now I’ve played two of my first three Championship games against them.
“I’ve really enjoyed today. There is a bit in the wicket for the bowlers but my role as fourth seamer is great. I’m encouraged to try and bowl as quickly as I can and if I go for a few runs then I’m told not to worry about it.
“The first ball which got Rutherford wasn’t a great delivery to be honest, it was a full toss which fortunately he missed. So I’ve got him out three times now in three weeks. I guess I’m not his favourite person at the moment!
“We’ve bowled well and put ourselves in a good position if we can bat well tomorrow.”
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