Sussex v Warwickshire, Horsham, 3rd day July 22, 2014

Trott hits heartening hundred

Vithushan Ehantharajah at Horsham

Sussex 413 (Wright 89, Cachopa 84) and 204 for 4 (Joyce 72, Cachopa 54) lead Warwickshire 333 (Trott 106, Chopra 81, Magoffin 4-74) by 284 runs

For a player who has spent the last eight months as the subject of much cod-psychiatry and speculative nonsense, it was refreshing to see Jonathan Trott was as bullish as ever. Speaking at stumps after a day in which he scored his first century since returning home early from England's Ashes tour last year - his deadpan replies, ones where he pokes holes in the question before answering them - was a true return to form as anything out in the middle.

Warwickshire will need that bullishness in bucket loads tomorrow; 284 runs behind, with Sussex most likely looking to offer an insurmountable chase. But, at least tonight, they can enjoy the success of one of their most impressive batsmen.

This was Trott's first hundred since England's tour of New Zealand in March 2013. Sussex were also on the receiving end of his last Championship hundred, back in the April of 2012. When asked if this milestone was an important one to get out of the way, he disagreed.

When the talk turned to how well he was playing the short-ball against Steve Magoffin and Chris Jordan he replied, "I think played the full balls pretty well, as well."

"It was important to spend some time in the middle," Trott said. "I felt good at Durham and it was just a case of going on and improving."

"All-round I'm feeling comfortable. It's just adjusting to getting back and playing cricket everyday, as you do in county cricket. It's been good; I've learned a lot over the last three months, and it's just putting it into practice."

What this means in the grand scheme of things is anyone's guess. Is he back to his best? Was this a sign that his troubles have been overcome? What of England - could he return to save an ailing side with the grit and excellence that saw him named the ICC Cricketer of The Year in 2011? Trott was unwilling to look too far ahead, and understandably so.

What we can say for sure is that you would be hard-pressed to find someone who did not greet today's news with a smile. It is easy to gauge just how much goodwill is sent Trott's way, from the support offered to him during this period of his life, to the floods of disdain to every ill-judged article and comment from the great ill informed.

When Trott tucked the 224th ball he had faced off his hip for four, the Horsham crowd were unified in applause and the smatterings of cheers. That local reaction was far from a surprise given what we had already seen during an eventful period of play on day one.

At their partisan best, the 2,000 strong crowd rallied against Boyd Rankin and Warwickshire as they got stuck into Luke Wright, who they believed was lucky to still be batting after fending a bouncer into the hands of Rikki Clarke. Actually, the ball hit Wright's shoulder, which required treatment throughout the second day. But, as Warwickshire rounded on the batsman, the crowd jeered and hooted when follow-up short balls sailed safely overhead for byes.

Just as the catcalls were at their most boisterous, an announcement came through the ground's PA system that Jonathan Trott would be coming on to bowl from the Railway End. Cue cheers and the odd "go on Trotty!" from a predominantly light-blue crowd. At stumps on day one, as Trott signed autographs, a Sussex member wished him luck: "There are runs out there for a class batsman like yourself." He wasn't wrong.

Trott was certainly made to work for his runs. He had two lucky escapes yesterday when he was adjudged not out on 21 when he nicked behind and then later, on 58, when Ben Brown couldn't hold on to a chance off James Tredwell.

Resuming on 62, he respected the early conditions and picked his gaps well. Upon moving into the nineties, he hit two crashing shots through the leg side, the second of which was stopped from going for four thanks to a diving Wright. Upon reaching three figures, Trott removed his helmet and pecked the badge, before saluting all parts of the ground. His dismissal, which signalled the lunch interval, brought to end a manic morning session.

Following the early wickets of Sam Hain and Tim Ambrose, Sussex put down four chances - three of which were created by misjudgments from Clarke.

Having swept two fours in a row off Tredwell, Clarke advanced down the wicket and missed the ball completely, only for it to shoot past Brown for four byes. To the second delivery with the new ball, taken in the 85th over, Clarke offered Luke Wells at point a simple chance, which he grassed. Two overs later, he pierced the hands of Chris Jordan at first slip before Trott offered a similar yet much harder chance to Steffan Piolet at third slip.

No surprise, then, that Clarke was subject to a few words when he offered one chance too many at lunch. Clarke's Sussex had no one but themselves to blame.

They rallied after lunch, with Magoffin and Jordan generating the sort of pace and bounce that had Brown taking the ball off his feet behind the stumps. With the wicket of Keith Barker - caught by Jordan at slip - Magoffin became the first Division One bowler to reach fifty wickets this season.

Were it not for a handy partnership of 60 between Chris Woakes and Jeetan Patel, Warwickshire would have found themselves further behind than their first-innings deficit of 80.

As it happened, Sussex more or less cancelled those late runs, and then some, with an evening assault led by skipper Ed Joyce and newbie Craig Cachopa. The latter double underlined, bolded and added flashing lights to his credentials with classy shots square of the wicket and demoralising ones down the ground.

Together, 109 runs were put on in 22.4 overs. Upon their dismissals - both to Rankin after they passed fifty - they were replaced by Chris Jordan and Luke Wright, as Sussex look to continue charging towards what will be a monumental target.