Cricket: Davis and Ball show way to top

Sussex 324 & 161 Gloucs win by 166 runs
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The Independent Online
After the second spirited partnership of the match between Toby Peirce and Neil Taylor had taken Sussex to within sight of a draw, their middle order collapsed miserably against the accurate and persevering spin of Richard Davis and Martyn Ball, and the 23 points Gloucestershire collected from the match has taken them to the top of the championship table.

For three and a half days, Sussex fought well against a side with championship aspirations even if Gloucestershire were not quite at their best. In the end though, a pitch which allowed the spinners slow turn, enabled them to maintain their challenge.

After Gloucestershire had batted on for 45 minutes in the morning, Sussex's final target was 328 in a minimum of 82 overs which, with the two spinners in more or less constant action, became 94. To score at almost three and a half runs an over for this length of time with a highly suspect batting side was never a realistic option for Sussex unless they were given a wonderful start.

In the second over of the innings, Rajesh Rao played forward to Jonathan Lewis and was picked up by Ball at first slip. Peirce and Taylor then embarked upon another rebuilding exercise - they had put on 135 in the first innings - and added 107 for the second wicket now.

Both drove handsomely against the seam bowlers and defended with reasonable certainty when the spinners came on. Then, as they got their measure, they also began to drive and play off their legs with a pleasing fluency. But the spinners persevered with four fielders round the bat and it was Ball who made the all important first breakthrough.

Peirce had just reached his second 50 of the match when he went back to force Ball who turned an off-break away from the left-hander a little more than Peirce had anticipated and he was caught low at second slip by Bobby Dawson.

Taylor's 50 came next but soon afterwards he went on to the back foot and turned the ball straight to short leg.

This opened the floodgates for within minutes the Newell brothers had gone. Mark pushed forward to Davis and was caught at silly point and when Keith came onto the front foot he was held at short leg off bat and pad.

The tea interval hardly provided respite for Sussex for almost at once after the restart Paul Jarvis stretched forward to one from Ball which may have gone on with his arm and was caught low down at slip by Mark Alleyne. Five runs later Amer Khan went forward to Davis and was caught off bat and pad.

Next to go was Justin Bates who was lbw to Ball playing a shot which was a mixture of a pull and a sweep and Alex Edwards and Mark Robinson were out just before the start of the final hour. Ball finished with 5 for 66 in 30 overs and Davis 4 for 35 in 29.

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