Jackson Bird revealed he was still rusty but was happy to repay some of Hampshire’s faith after finally making his Championship debut.
The Australian fast bowler has been sidelined since the start of the season with a shoulder and neck injury and was even set to fly home at one stage.
It was a mixed day for me personally. I bowled well in patches but I’m still a little bit rustyJackson Bird
But the club instead opted to retain their overseas player and nurse him back to fitness, even when their bowling attack looked toothless at times.
After finally getting out on to the pitch, the 28-year-old showed some of his ability as he claimed three wickets for 69 in Hampshire’s best day of Championship cricket so far this season.
With Gareth Berg (four for 67) also impressive, Sussex were bowled out for 251 before Hampshire reached 116 for four at stumps.
Bird, however, feels there is plenty more to come as he gets his sharpness back and was not entirely happy with his efforts.
He said: ‘It was a mixed day for me personally. I bowled well in patches but I’m still a little bit rusty.
‘It was nice to contribute with wickets but if I’m completely honest with myself, I need to lift my standards.
‘One of my biggest strengths is my economy rate so it is disappointing to go at around five per over. There’s always the second innings to improve that though.
‘I feel great when I’m bowling at the moment.
‘It’s just trying to get that consistency back bowling good overs back-to-back all day.
‘I’m feeling good with my rhythm so the more overs I do bowl the more control I will have.
‘I booked my flight home but then Cricket Australia liaised with Hampshire and the best outcome for me was to stay over here.
‘The travel would have added an extra couple of weeks on to my rehab and it felt like it was getting better every day.
‘I’m just glad Hampshire have shown me a lot of patience and it’s nice to be repaying that faith by getting on to the park.
‘It has been a long time coming so it was nice to finally get out there.’
Bird had been tipped as a possible contender to force his way into the Australian side for the Ashes this summer before his injury.
But for the moment, his priority is in attempting to fire Hampshire towards a first Championship success of the season.
He said: ‘I think we’re in a pretty good position now after a tough middle session, Luke Wright and Chris Nash took it to us there and we fought our way back into the game pretty nicely.
‘The pitch is actually playing okay. A couple of balls from the top end, bowling down the hill, are taking off a little bit but generally it has played quite well.
‘I think it might deteriorate as the game goes on so hopefully we can get a big score in this innings and get ahead.
‘Once the ball gets a little bit softer as we saw in our innings, it makes it a little bit easier to score.’