On a gloomy late September day of heavy cloud at the Brightside Ground Bristol, which saw only 68 overs bowled, Gloucestershire finished on 201/7. This represented a considerable recovery from 68/6 and was due to an excellent unbroken stand of 104 for the eighth wicket between Chris Dent, who finished on 86 not out, and David Payne who was unbeaten on 48.
On a dull morning play was delayed until 11.00. The toss was uncontested, Sussex’s decision to bowl looking sound on a dampish pitch.
It quickly proved correct. Gloucestershire skipper Gareth Roderick being bowled by Chris Jordan, bowling an excellent spell from the Ashley Down End, with just a single on the board. James Bracey, the 19 year-old making his Championship debut for Gloucestershire, suffered the same fate. He got one that kept low from Steve Magoffin, not the easiest bowler to face on your introduction to senior cricket.
Ollie Robinson replaced Magoffin at the Pavilion End and quickly accounted for last week’s centurion George Hankins, bowling him for two.
Gloucestershire were in trouble at 12/3. But Dent and Hamish Marshall, making his final appearance for Gloucestershire before returning to his native New Zealand after 11 seasons, continued up to lunch with no further alarms – the home side 33/3 after 24 overs.
In Magoffin’s second over after lunch, he trapped Marshall lbw for 14. The incoming Phil Mustard immediately cover drove Magoffin to the boundary on the College side of the ground, but that was the extent of the Durham loanee’s success for the day. He became the Australian seamer’s third victim, nicking to ‘keeper Ben Brown.
With half the side out for 42 the visitors must have been delighted with their progress, more so when Robinson again took a wicket in the first over a spell, bowling Jack Taylor for five as he tried to flick the right arm seamer through mid- wicket. Dent and Craig Miles took the score to 97 when Miles was well caught down the leg side off Jofra Archer for 20.
Dent reached his 50 from 137 balls as the home side stumbled to 137/7. The left-handed opener doesn’t always show the level of patience he displayed today, but here he showed his fellow batters what was possible on a pitch offering help to the seamers, with application and good shot selection.
At tea Gloucestershire had reached 143/7 from 56 overs, with Dent on 56 and David Payne on 22. It was a good recovery from 42/5.
After tea the eighth wicket pair continued their resistance, as the wicket eased and the ball got older.
The session was punctuated by several light checks by the umpires. It was evident that this wasn’t going to be a long day, as the skies showed no signs of lightening. In the event, the day’s proceedings were brought to a halt at 4.33 with Gloucestershire spirits much higher than they had been earlier in the day.
After play Chris Dent spoke about how tricky batting was early on, and how he thought it was a pitch where facing the new ball was particularly difficult. Magoffin’s excellent 3/35 from 19 overs bears testimony to this view.
The weather forecast for the rest of the match, which promises more damp gloomy weather, suggests a Gloucestershire first innings of around 250 may be useful. Sussex will be looking to break the Dent/ Payne partnership early tomorrow to take charge of the match.