Gloucestershire ended the third day at the Brightside Ground, Bristol on 88/3, needing 118 runs to make Sussex bat again.
On a day where eyes were constantly turned to the scoreboard, which carried the latest scores from Lord’s and Taunton, it was the single-mindedness of Sussex skipper Ben Brown, with an excellent 119 not out, who put his side in a position where tomorrow they can push for their fifth victory of the season.
Sussex resumed this morning on their overnight 208/4, in reply to the home side’s 229 – Phil Salt not out 29 and Brown unbeaten on 13. With 15 overs due before the new ball, Sussex would have been looking to push on towards a sizeable lead. Salt moved to 42 before he became Craig Miles’s 49th victim of the season, nicking to ‘keeper Phil Mustard- Sussex 238/5.
At lunch Sussex were 324/6 from 94 overs, with Brown on 65 and Ollie Robinson 20. In the first over after lunch Miles bagged his third victim of the day, when Robinson edged to Mustard without adding to his lunch score.
The new ball was taken with Sussex on 260/5. Soon after, the change had the effect Gloucestershire desired, Miles trapping Chris Jordan in front to record his 50th wicket of the season – the first time he has reached this milestone in his young career. Effective though his wicket- taking bowling is, there remains the feeling that a cost of 31 runs per wicket this season is a little higher than it should be for one of the country’s most promising quick bowlers.
Brown reached his 75-ball 50, as Payne and Miles bowled a hostile new ball spell. But Jofra Archer, who had joined Brown, soon began to play with similar fluency to that which he displays in his athletic bowling action, and the pair pushed on in much the best batting conditions of the match.
Brown’s third Championship century of the summer, which contained 15 fours from 149 balls, came as Sussex reached the 400 mark. It was his third of the summer and the twelfth of his career. He played with the compactness and good organisation that so many wicket keepers are capable of, and rarely looked in much trouble.
At 410 the eighth wicket stand of 85 came to an end as Jack Taylor, who was coming in for some rough treatment from both batters, trapped Archer lbw as he swept at his off-spin. Archer’s 39 confirmed his great promise as an all-rounder, vindicating the county’s decision to award him a contract until the end of 2017.
Danny Briggs was next out for three, becoming Shaw’s fifth victim; the first five-for that the 20 year old Yorkshireman has taken in the Championship, a proud moment for his watching parents. When Steve Magoffin was bowled by Miles for 12, Sussex were all out for 435, Brown ending on a highly valuable 119 not out. Tea was taken at the close of the Sussex innings leaving 32 overs in the evening session.
Shaw was the pick of a Gloucestershire attack with 5/79 from 28 hostile, and accurate overs. Miles too bowled with venom, particularly with the new ball, and took 4/109 from 26.5 overs.
Gloucestershire set about chasing the 206 needed to make Sussex bat again. Gareth Roderick was soon out for nine, shouldering arms to Jordan. Chris Dent and James Bracey took the score 74, before Bracey was lbw to Danny Briggs for 12.
Dent narrowly escaped when he skied Archer to ‘keeper Brown, but the ball just dropped short. George Hankins joined Dent and the pair took the score to 86 but just before the close Hankins was lbw, Briggs’ second scalp. Dent remains unbeaten on 47.
Gloucestershire will have to bat most of the day tomorrow to save the game, on a pitch where batting is much easier than it was on the first two days. It will be Hamish Marshall’s last day in Gloucestershire’s whites before he retires to his native New Zealand. Gloucestershire will hope the stage is set for a fairytale ending for the popular Kiwi.