Sussex v Worcestershire, Hove, 2nd day August 2, 2012

Joyce stands a class above with hundred

Ivo Tennant at Hove

Sussex 325 for 7 (Joyce 107, Wright 78, Richardson 4-67) lead Worcestershire 162 by 163 runs

To watch Ed Joyce batting over the past two days has been to watch a cricketer playing on a more elevated level to everyone else. Where others have failed to contend with the steep bounce, he has dropped the ball off the face of his bat to his feet. Where lesser batsmen have groped outside off stump against movement, he has picked out the cover boundary. Unlike another celebrated left hander in action, the captain of South Africa, he does not go in for ugly shots.

The upshot was a delightful century, the 28th of his first-class career and an innings in magnitude as well as elegance beyond the compass of all other batsmen in this contest. Joyce is leading Sussex for the first time as their official captain and it could just be, as he approaches his 34th birthday, that his batting will flower as a result. It is too late for him to play Test cricket - he is fully committed to Ireland - but the wonder is why he did not do so in the past.

When Joyce times the ball as sweetly as this - one straight drive for four off Gareth Andrew stood out in particular - it is hard to imagine that his fellow Irishman Eoin Morgan, who has played Test cricket, is a better batsman. This has not been a straightforward pitch to bat on, as Worcestershire's total of 162 on the first day would suggest. There has been lift and movement, perhaps a little less pronounced on this, the second day, but there has been Alan Richardson, that consummate old pro, to combat.

After Sussex resumed their first innings, Richardson soon bowled Chris Nash and had Luke Wells taken at second slip. Interestingly enough, as with Steve Magoffin on the first day, he bowled exclusively up the slope. The difficulties inherent in contending with the bounce were sharply illustrated when Murray Goodwin, not a tall man, pushed forward to Jack Shantry and was hit painfully on a hand. He was out almost immediately afterwards, not fully forward.

Mike Yardy batted for a while with unfettered aggression, having dispensed with the cares of captaincy. He pulled Richard Jones for six onto the top of the media stand (which in contrast to the sleek appearance of the ground has some strange weeds growing on its roof) and it was something of a surprise when he nibbled outside off stump at Richardson and was taken at the wicket, having made 33.

Joyce continued to bat at his own pace, unflustered by becoming becalmed on 98 shortly before tea, the same score for which he was out in the last match against Nottinghamshire. A full toss from Moeen Ali encouraged him to sweep, a shot he plays well, and it took him to his second century of the season. He had found by now an attack-minded partner in Luke Wright, who in due course became only the second batsman in this match to reach a half century.

Joyce had faced, in all, 260 balls and had hit 12 fours when Richardson, who took the new ball in the final session, had him leg before. Wright, who was out not long afterwards, struck eight fours and a six in his innings of 78. Useful additional runs, maybe quite sufficient, were collected before the close.