Sussex224 for 5 (Wiese 66*, Brown 58*, Barker 3-37) trail Warwickshire 440 (Trott 124, Bell 112, Rhodes 50, Archer 4-66) by 216 runs
September's cricket offered its familiar themes at Hove. They included a first England tour for a promising young fast bowler, Olly Stone, and the imminent retirement of a fine Test batsman, Jonathan Trott. And as so often in a match of moment, there were calculations as to the points one side, Warwickshire, would require to secure promotion at the expense of their opponents, Sussex. But enfolding it all was the spectators' awareness that this had been one of the final mornings this year on which they had walked down Eaton Road and been comforted by the prospect of what they might see.
By the time the mower was performing its stately gavotte on the outfield Sussex had struggled to 224 for 5 in reply to Warwickshire's 440. That represented a considerable improvement from 87 for 5, the score when Luke Wells was judged caught down the leg side off Stone but it is plainly nothing like the platform Ben Brown's side need if they are to have a hope of winning this game.
Warwickshire and Kent look certain to bag their places in Division One next at some point in the next two days but that will not deter either Brown or David Wiese whose unbroken stand of 137 brightened the evening session and diverted the apparent flow of the contest.
In the first half of the day Warwickshire tried to progress towards a colossal total but lost their last eight wickets for 108 runs and their last six for 19 in little more than ten overs of the afternoon session. It all put the application and skill of Trott and Ian Bell on the first day into their correct perspective and both batsmen received proper appreciation for their efforts. Having helped Trott set a new third-wicket record of 230 for Warwickshire against Sussex, Bell was lbw for 112 when attempting to sweep Danny Briggs, the same fate that befell Tim Ambrose shortly after lunch. By then, though, Trott had long reached his hundred off 202 balls and had also been well caught low down at short midwicket by Harry Finch for 124 when driving Wiese.
As Trott walked off he was given the warmest of ovations by home supporters against whose team he had just scored a seventh century. The cynics might sneer that the applause was prompted by relief at the dismissal, but surely it was not so. Just when we thought we were girded ourselves against autumn's poignancy proper cricket people reminded us how much we will miss this stuff.
Warwickshire supporters will miss Trott's stuff, too, a contention which appeared increasingly valid in the period immediately after lunch. Resuming on 402 for 4, the visitors lost Sam Hain for 53 when he played no shot to a ball from Ollie Robinson but the last four wickets were taken by Jofra Archer, who cruised coolly in from the Cromwell Road End and took them all in 11 balls, three of them castled, as Warwickshire's tail gave every indication they would prefer to be bowling.
This made the hour after lunch comfortably the best period of the game for Sussex. As though to celebrate his successes, Archer fielded with his sweater tied round his waist, giving him a curiously skirted appearance. The hubbub from the Boundary Club Business Network increased and the sun even made an appearance although, like Sussex's fleeting moments of ascendancy, it had largely disappeared by the evening session.
Warwickshire's reassertion of their dominance began almost as soon as they began to bat. With Tom Haines having injured his ankle ligaments and being almost certain not to take any further part in the match, Briggs opened with Phil Salt, but both openers and Harry Finch were back in the pavilion inside seven overs. All three were lbw to Keith Barker, who bowled his left-arm seamers from around the wicket from the Sea End and angled the ball in to batsmen caught on the crease.
Wells and Michael Burgess steered their side safely to tea and beyond but Stone then marked his selection for England's one-day squad by nipping one back through the gate to bowl Burgess for 46. In his next over Stone removed Wells who looked aghast at Paul Baldwin's decision. His wickets aside, Stone bowled at the sort of pace the England selectors admire but he also leaked plenty of boundaries and conceded 52 runs from his eight overs. Brown and Wiese profited from the attacking fields set by Jeetan Patel and both batsmen had reached their fifties by the close. They will continue this good fight on the third day and pray that their struggle somehow availeth.