Yardy back in the swing as Sussex tighten grip

Sussex 191 & 200-4 - Gloucestershire 142

In his 10 Championship visits to the crease since then the Sussex left-hander had scraped together 184 runs, with a top score of 38.

Yesterday, however, normal service was resumed. The six-footer from Hastings battled his way to a welcome half-century off 114 balls, to help Sussex take a firm grip of affairs on a third rain-interrupted day.

The century partnership he shared with his captain, Chris Adams (who was averaging 50-plus coming into this match), ensured that the first-innings lead of 49 would not be wasted.

Yardy's innings was also notable for another reason: it was the first time in this match that a batsman from either side had reached fifty. The idea caught on, because Adams also scored fifty - the seventh time this season he has done so, once going on to three figures.

The more runs the pair piled up on a pitch that flattened out as the afternoon progressed, the greater the optimism among the home supporters. Having entered this match as potential relegation candidates in seventh place - some 47.5 points ahead of Gloucestershire a place below them - Sussex could yet get to within touching distance of the trio of First Division pace-setters were they to win and collect the 17 points on offer.

Where Yardy was a model of moderation, prudently placing his shots, Adams was more brutal, mastering the conditions and the opposition attack more rapidly. He entered the 40s with a six and a four off successive Ian Fisher deliveries, then a straight drive off Jon Lewis got him there off 83 balls.

Unfortunately, not long after Adams had driven Fisher to the extra-cover boundary to bring up the hundred stand, he was run out having been sent back by Yardy. Alex Gidman's throw from mid-off to the bowler Jon Lewis just pipped Adams.

Provided the weather holds and the Sussex attack bowls as well as it did in the morning, when just seven overs were needed to take the remaining two Gloucestershire wickets, they may be celebrating victory today.

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