From the drawn-out tedium of the morning session, to a turnaround few would have expected, the second day of Glamorgan and Sussex’s Championship clash gave its smattering of supporters the drama they craved.
Graham Wagg – as he so often is – was at the heart of the action, nipping out three Sussex batsman in the space of four balls, to stop the pendulum mid-swing.
Sussex slipped from an almost impregnable position, at 20 runs behind for the loss of two wickets, to allow Glamorgan back on terms, in the space of two sessions.
The home side ended the day 50/1, 19 runs ahead of their opponents and with cause to be satisfied with their day’s work. Wagg and van der Gugten three wickets a-piece started an enterprising fight back from the Welsh county. Jacques Rudolph and Will Bragg then ensured Sussex’s evening rewards were slim.
It was Chris Nash and nightwatchman Danny Briggs who dug deep in the early hours of a humid Welsh morning, plodding onwards from 111/1 to 180 for the same score. Van der Gugten beat Briggs’ bat on numerous occasions, but the edge eluded him. Michael Hogan was as economical and precise as ever.
Briggs, bizarrely, dug his own grave in the last over before lunch when he attempted a quick single to Aneurin Donald at cover and was yards short of his ground.
Nash again proved himself as a master of patience and precision, knocking the bowling into gaps and strolling to an un-fussy century. The 33-year-old could be one of the most underrated cricketers on the county circuit. Averaging almost 40 and with 22 first-class centuries to his name, he’s an outstanding opening batsman at this level. He and Luke Wells (24) ticked along to 232/2 and all seemed rosy in the South Coast camp.
Glamorgan asked plenty of questions and after lunch, they began to find a few answers. Craig Meschede snuck one through Wells’ defence to earn a deserved second wicket and before long, the floodgates had opened.
Wagg then sparked the dramatic collapse when young Christian Davis, in his second Championship appearance for Sussex, nicked through to the grateful gloves of Mark Wallace for two.
Wallace and Wagg teamed up again for the dismissal of visiting captain Luke Wright two balls later. And when David Wiese was castled by a beauty from the 33-year-old Wagg, Glamorgan were cock-a-hoop.
There had been controversy on Wright’s first ball when Wagg thought he heard a sound, only to see the Sussex skipper stand his ground. But any tension was relieved – at least as far as the Welsh county were concerned – when Wright was on his way back to the pavilion. Wagg picked up his 200th first-class wicket for Glamorgan during the sensational burst.
Nash was fast running out of partners. Ben Brown (3) was the next to depart, as the metronomic Hogan picked up a hard-earned scalp with a feather through to Wallace.
Jofra Archer fended to Nick Selman at third slip off the pacy van der Gugten, Nash was castled for a resolute 132 in the end (off 284 balls) and Steve Magoffin was the last man to go, yorked by a ripper from the ‘Flying Dutchman’. Sussex’s lead was a meagre 31 and it was game on.
Glamorgan ‘keeper Wallace had called for a fight back after a fairly dismal Day One for the Welsh county and he got it. He knew wickets could fall in clusters and Rudolph’s men could be back in business and he was right. It was a revival few had seen coming but one that has ignited this cricket match.
Bragg and Rudolph knew the score. After the early loss of Selman, LBW to the dangerous Magoffin, the two left-handers steered Glamorgan to the close.
The hosts finished 50/1 and have a serious chance of salvaging a very positive result from this intriguing match.