Wells stakes his claim

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reports from Hove

Sussex 326 and 169-4

Essex 185

For once, Sussex went systematically and successfully about their business. Excellent bowling, particularly from Ed Giddins, brought them a first- innings lead of 141 and then Alan Wells, batting with real authority, saw to it that they did not let this advantage slip.

On a pitch which has given the seam bowlers some help thro-ughout and has a slightly uneven bounce, Essex will have to make the largest score of the match in the fourth innings, which will be a rather tall order.

Although Essex are no longer the side they were, they are still good enough to finish well up the table, and it was impressive to see how the Sussex bowlers kept at them in the first part of the day.

Jason Lewry did not take part because of back trouble, but Franklyn Stephenson - who bowled without any luck - and Giddins more than made up for his absence.

Giddins is tall and uses his height well to get any life from the pitch, although he was lucky to pick up his first wicket when Nasser Hussain chased a very wide one and was caught behind. A yorker - a ball he bowls with dangerous precision - accounted for Jonathan Lewis, and Robert Rollins also made a mess of another that was well up to the bat.

There was then a good spell from Ian Salisbury, who is controlling his leg spin much better and giving the batsman fewer free offerings. He had Mark Ilott lbw stretching forward and held a low return catch from Darren Cousins before Giddins returned and took his fifth wicket.

Sussex, who badly need more stability at the top of the order, soon lost three wickets in their second innings. Jamie Hall played Ilott into his stumps, Bill Athey failed to pick up a slower ball, and Keith Newell did not move his front foot across when defending outside the off stump.

At 49 for 3, Wells took over. He started with a straight drive off the back foot against Mark Waugh, and then a succession of lovely strokes split the field on either side of the wicket until he was bowled round his legs sweeping. There is no on-driver in England at the moment, and this innings made one hope that he is given a proper chance in the one- day internationals.