County Championship round-up: Fluent Joyce restates his case for wider acclaim

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The Independent Online

As a natural strokeplayer and a master of timing, Ed Joyce has drawn comparisons with David Gower but the Dublin-born left-hander began this season looking more like a cricketer whose chance of playing Test cricket had passed him by.

Joyce made a century against Australia in a one-day international in Sydney in February 2007, helping England at last win a match in what had become a disastrous Ashes tour, but was dropped after a disappointing World Cup in the Caribbean the same year and has not been recalled.

He has not won a Test cap yet he retains the hope of being given an opportunity and is steadily building a case. Refreshed by a winter move from Middlesex to Sussex, the 31-year-old was named last month in England's 30-man provisional squad for the Champions Trophy on the strength of his one-day form and he may soon warrant consideration for the five-day game.

Having picked Warwickshire's Jonathan Trott to make the trip to Headingley this week, the England selectors will have made favourable note of Joyce's superb performance against Nottinghamshire yesterday should they decide to explore other options in the current Ashes series

Joyce was hit on the elbow by Steve Harmison facing Durham last week but his brilliant 183 at Horsham showed that he is none the worse for the experience, taking Sussex from a precarious 128 for 6 to 309 for 9 after being asked to bat first. Joyce apart, Sussex were dire, even against an attack weakened by Ryan Sidebottom's recall to the Test squad. Luke Fletcher celebrated his return to favour with 3 for 58.

With the first day of Warwickshire's match against Somerset abandoned after more rain fell on an already saturated Edgbaston outfield, the match at Horsham was the only action in the First Division but there was no shortage of incident in Division Two, where leaders Kent skittled struggling Middlesex for 155 but crashed to 90-8 in reply and were all out for 141, despite 67 from Darren Stevens. Gareth Berg's 57 was the only batsman to prosper for the visitors and questions will inevitably be asked about the Canterbury pitch.

Captain Mark Pettini, Graham Napier and David Masters gave Essex a solid start with a half-century apiece against Gloucestershire on day one of the Southend Festival.

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