Vince Clarke had only 40 minutes' play at Derby to reinforce the promise he has shown with the bat all season, but he took his chance against Sussex with both hands.
Derbyshire signed the 25-year-old all-rounder after Leicestershire released him at the end of last season and Clarke has rewarded them with several important innings. He made 99, his highest first-class score, to haul Derbyshire out of trouble in the previous match at Edgbaston, and he followed that with a half century before rain halted play yesterday after only 58 balls had been bowled.
It was his fourth first-class half century this season to add to a fifty in the Benson and Hedges Cup and he was unbeaten on 65 when the weather closed in.
Clarke had started the day on 48 and was still searching for his first run when the nightwatchman, Paul Aldred, was caught behind driving at James Kirtley with no addition to the overnight total of 209 for 8.
His fifty came up in the next over when a punishing extra cover drive off Vasbert Drakes brought him his sixth four and a less convincing stroke - an edge through the slips in the West Indian's next over - raced away for another boundary.
Andrew Harris added to Sussex's growing frustration by sharing a last- wicket stand with Clarke which carried Derbyshire to 233 for 9 before the first storm broke over the County Ground. With more rain forecast for today's final day, the game looks destined to end in a draw.
n Gloucestershire will not know until tonight if any action is to be taken over their controversial new wicket at Bristol, where 25 wickets have fallen in two days of the current match with Middlesex.