Another eye-catching performance from Jofra Archer allowed Sussex to glimpse an improbable fourth championship victory over Gloucestershire at Hove.
Gloucestershire had been set 351 to win in 75 overs – a motorway maximum of seventy an hour over five hours.
At lunch, at 30 for three, they were out of it. Once again Archer had been at the heart of the Sussex challenge, with two wickets. He had Chris Dent caught behind and then plucked out Gareth Roderick’s off stump with a snorter in the last over before the break. Abi Sakande had taken the first wicket, bowling Cameron Bancroft for 13.
After lunch it was Archer the fielder who inspired his side, with two magnificent catches at long-leg off the bowling of Chris Jordan. First he dismissed Phil Mustard, high above his head and inches away from the ropes. Then, just before tea, he pulled off an even better one, this time diving forward to catch George Hankins. The obdurate Hankins had provided Gloucestershire’s main middle-order resistance, with a two-hour 51.
That left Gloucestershire in serious danger of defeat, at 117 for six with one session to go. But Jack Taylor played a feisty innings in the gloaming, scoring 69 not out, and they did not lose another wicket.
Gloucestershire had declared their first innings overnight, on 150 for one, conceding a disadvantage of 208 runs.
When Sussex batted in their second innings it resembled the sort of pre-declaration bowling that was so common on Tuesdays and Fridays in the days of three-day cricket.
But with 150 overs lost to bad weather, including the whole of the second day, both sides needed to do something positive to produce the excellent finish we saw on Thursday.
Sussex thrashed 142 from 18.1 overs in their second knock, for the loss of just one wicket. It took them only 55 minutes. Harry Finch scored 74 from 59 balls, with a dozen fours, and Luke Wells hit five fours and a six in his 44.
The bowling, though, was very friendly, opened by Will Tavare and Bancroft, a fine young batsman, an occasional wicket-keeper but only a very occasional bowler, with only six balls in first class cricket before this spell, in which he conceded 67 runs from seven overs. Some lobbed-up leg-breaks from Mustard added to the general geniality of the attack. But it all contributed to an absorbing conclusion.