DURHAM were deeply indebted to Mark Stoneman’s third century of the season as the rest struggled to counter the swinging ball.
The opener was seventh out for 113 and Ben Stokes, with 36, was the only other batsman to pass 20 as Durham reached 222 for seven at tea.
Stoneman, who will be 27 on Thursday, took five years to become fully established before also scoring three centuries last season and he now has ten in total. Today’s came off 129 balls with 15 fours and a six.
As complaints about balls going soft grow louder, Sussex succeeded in having the original changed in the first over after lunch and the replacement continued to swing all afternoon.
In the circumstances the number of times the less experienced seamers allowed themselves to be cut and pulled by Stoneman as he dominated the scoring was inexcusable.
Steve Magoffin and ex-Gloucestershire man Jon Lewis were the exceptions. Until Lewis improved in his second spell, Magoffin was twice as economical as everybody else in conceding two an over, although it was Lewis Hatchett who took the bulk of the wickets.
Stokes seemed to be getting back to his best in reaching 32 at lunch, but he added only four in six overs before miscuing to mid-on.
The Hatchett job continued when Paul Collingwood pushed forward and edged to wicketkeeper Ben Brown for seven, giving the left-armer his fourth wicket.
While Magoffin moved the ball both ways, Jon Lewis generally shaped it away from the right handers and also found a little extra bounce to have Gordon Muchall caught at first slip for 19.
When Lewis got one to hold its line Stoneman edged it to second slip, where James Tredwell held a good right-handed catch. Runs dried up as two came off the next overs and John Hastings took 25 balls before getting off the mark with an off drive for four. He was on 13 at tea, with a restrained Phil Mustard on seven.