John Simpson savoured a “very special” day as he led a Sussex comeback at Hove.

The skipper went in with his side on 34-3 and made an unbeaten 180 as the leaders closed day one of their Championship fixture against Leicestershire on 431-7.

His first home century was supported by a knock of 96 from Oli Carter.

Simpson said: “It was very special today.

“I’ve got a couple of hundreds already but to get one here at Hove is extra special.

“To come in not out, and to have come in when batting was a bit tricky, just adds to it.“

Sussex served up superb entertainment to a good-sized crowd, many of whom took advantage of an initiative to offer free tickets.

Leicestershire must be sick of the sight of Simpson, whose other two hundred came at Leicester, an unbeaten 205, and at his former home ground of Lord’s (167), so this was his first big score in front of his new supporters.

Oli Carter came in to open the batting for the injured Daniel Hughes and put on 156 with Simpson for the fourth wicket in just 34 overs. 

His 96 came off 142 balls, with 15 fours and a six off Scott Currie, flicked off his legs and onto the east-side scoreboard.

He was caught and bowled by Currie attempting a hook that would have given him only his second first-class century.

Simpson was delighted for his batting partner.

He said: “I just wanted to build some partnerships. 

"The ball was doing a bit and we had to ride that.  We just had to be sharp and focused. 

"I think Oli played beautifully.  For him to come back in and play the way he did was exceptional.

"He’s not had the easiest of seasons but the work he has put in behind the scenes has been great to watch.  And I had the best seat in the house watching him. 

"He allowed me to play my own game. 

"We gelled really well and that counter-attack after lunch was fantastic.”