Sussex 202 and 256-3
Classy fifties from Tom Clark, Ali Orr and James Coles put Sussex in a commanding position on the second day of their final County Championship fixture at Hove.
At stumps, the hosts led Gloucestershire by 263 runs with seven wickets in hand.
In his second game back from injury, opener Orr played at an even tempo, happy to defend the good ball before punishing anything loose. His season’s best score of 67 came from 103 balls and included 11 boundaries, the pick of which was a monstrous six he slog-swept off Zafar Gohar in the 19th over.
At the other end, Clark punished the seamers, whipping anything on his pads to the leg-side boundary. The 22-year-old cut his way to fifty with a single in the 33rd over.
Clark’s 132-ball 72 was his sixth half-century of the 2023 campaign and first since returning to the number three position.
After firing the hosts to a healthy lead, Orr and Clark’s 120-run partnership came to an end in the 35th over, when the former was bowled by an in-swinging Josh Shaw delivery.
Clark didn’t last much longer – bowled by the dogged Matt Taylor 15 overs later.
With the stand finally broken, new men Coles and Alsop set about rebuilding the innings. In an engrossing evening session, the pair played in contrasting styles.
Alsop was watchful. Eager to defend his wicket, Sussex’s vice-captain amassed his unbeaten score of 46 from 99 balls.
Nineteen-year-old Coles went about things in an entirely different manner. Punishing anything short, he pulled paceman Zaman Akhter for consecutive sixes in the 58th over after crashing Gohar for 14 in the previous over.
Despite only being there for 39 balls, Coles amassed 51 runs before bad light ended play, leading Sussex to 256-3, with eight boundaries.
Shaw was the only Gloucestershire bowler to pose a genuine threat. Ending the day with two wickets for 40 runs, he claimed the visitors’ only other pole, dismissing Tom Haines immediately after lunch with an out-swinger which the opener edged to Chris Dent at gully.
In the morning session, Sean Hunt, Brad Currie and Jack Carson were all in the wickets as Sussex skittled the visitors for just 195.
Currie and Hunt got in on the action early, dismissing Gohar and Ed Middleton in the day’s first 15 minutes with similar out-swingers, which were both caught by Clark at second slip.
Off-spinner Carson then claimed the final two Gloucestershire wickets – Josh Shaw and Zaman Akhter out in quick succession. The former fell to an excellent catch by Orr at short square leg while the latter nicked a wide delivery to wicket-keeper Oli Carter.
Carson’s final figures of 3 for 19 from 6.1 overs represent an impressive effort in conditions more suited to seam bowling than spin.
Speaking after the close of play, Orr said: “It’s been a very fast-moving game. With 16 wickets on the first day, the pitch was doing a bit. But we bowled really well. We wrapped it up really well this morning and put ourselves in a good situation with the bat.
“We’ve had two years of winning one game a season and we’ve won two already this year. I was lucky to be part of one of them. Three wins would be massive for us. We have a chance of finishing third in the division this year which is massive for us.
“There’s still a lot in this pitch. It’s doing enough, especially with the spin. We’ve got one of the best spinners in the country in Jack Carson. If we bowl well with the new ball and with our spinners, I think we’ve defiantly got a chance.”
Day three gets under way at 10.30am tomorrow at the 1st Central County Ground in Hove.