Fine swing bowling by Heath Streak gave Warwickshire a slim advantage after the opening day of their Championship encounter with Sussex.

Just what constitutes a good score on this pitch remains to be seen.

There is little pace for bowlers but plenty of swing, so runs are likely to be at a premium throughout. If the weather does not intervene a result is all but certain.

It could have been much better for Warwickshire. At 162 for six and all their top order gone, Sussex were in real trouble.

A maiden Championship half-century by 21-year-old Luke Wright formed the basis of a Sussex fightback, however, while an incident-packed cameo by Mushtaq Ahmed rubbed salt into Warwickshire's wounds.

Warwickshire were convinced they had Mushtaq caught on 14. Nick Knight, at second slip, pounced to his left to cling on to a sharp chance off Dougie Brown only to see the square leg umpire, Ian Gould, insist that the ball had not carried. Knight, and to a lesser extent Brown, was visibly upset by the decision.

There is, increasingly, something of an edge between these sides. Last season Warwick-shire's secret video recordings of

James Kirtley's bowling action resulted in the player's career being threatened while recent disparaging comments by Mark Wagh have heightened the level of competition.

Wagh, writing in a cricket magazine, tipped Sussex as relegation candidates this year, comments that so riled the home team that they have stuck his article on the dressing-room wall as a motivational aid.

At the midway point of the day, Warwickshire would have been delighted. With Sussex winning the toss and taking first use of a pitch that usually deteriorates, Streak's swing bowling cut through the host's top order.

Richard Montgomerie fell to the sixth ball of the day, well caught at second slip after prodding at a beauty that left him. Carl Hopkinson flashed at a wide one to give Freddie Klokker a maiden scalp and Michael Yardy, having driven fluently, was leg-before to one that nipped back in the first over of Streak's second spell.

Streak then made it four out of four when Chris Adams was smartly held at extra cover off a full-blooded drive.

Streak apart, Warwick-shire's attack struggled to maintain a consistent line and length. Too often the batsmen were able to work the ball off their legs while bowling short on this pitch is nothing short of charitable.

Brown took the vital wicket, however. A perfect outswinger on off stump produced an involuntary poke from the prolific Murray Goodwin before a similar delivery proved too good for Robin Martin-Jenkins.

An enterprising stand of 45 between debutant Andrew Hodd and Wright arrested the decline. Wright (96 balls, eight fours and two sixes) pulled with power and illustrated the potential that brought him an England A tour place last winter. He brought his 50 up with a delightful straight six off Alex Loudon and looked comfortable against all except Streak.

Jim Troughton made the breakthrough. Last season yielded only three first-class wickets for the left-arm spinner but he struck in his first over when Hodd prodded forward, pad first, to a quicker one.

Wright miscued a pull to deep mid-wicket but a last-wicket stand added 34 runs. It is yet to be seen how crucial they will be, though the Sussex total is perhaps only 40 or so below par.

In reply, Warwickshire soon lost Ian Westwood, who appeared beaten for pace by the erratic but fast Duncan Spencer. Klokker ended a memorable first day in first-class cricket by surviving the final five overs as nightwatchman.

There is an unusual look to this Sussex attack. With Kirtley - bereft of form and confidence - left out, 35-year-old Jason Lewry and 34-year-old Spencer had to take the new ball.

Spencer last played a first-class match in 1994, though the gap between appearances is by no means a record. Eminent statistician Robert Brooke informs me that the Rev Reginald Moss made his debut (for Liverpool and Districts against the Australian tourists) in August 1893 but then had to wait until May 1925 - by which he was 57 - to play again, for Worcestershire against Gloucestershire. n England captain Michael Vaughan came through his first net session yesterday at Trent Bridge - a 20-minute affair - since returning from India injured.