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Sussex finally revel in most glorious of days

Gloucestershire 367 and 149 for 8 (Taylor 52*, Jordan 4-32) trail Sussex 527 (Wells 120, Brown 113, Jordan 52, M Taylor 4-130) by 11 runs
Scorecard

Just for a day, in this toughest season for Sussex, Hove felt like the Hove of yesteryear.

The sun shone, of course it did. And the seagulls swarmed in the breeze, barking away like the gobbiest of glovemen down the village green. A batsman called Wells resumed 100 not out, before a freewheeling wicketkeeper batsman - it could easily have been Matt Prior, Tim Ambrose or even Jim Parks, but it was Ben Brown - cut and punched his way to a century in building a 160-run lead.

Then the bowlers - looking a beautifully balanced attack - blew Gloucestershire away to leave Sussex within an inch of a second win of the season. Chris Jordan was in magical form, with four wickets, 52 runs and, as ever, a stunning moment in the field.

Sussex's coach Mark Davis neatly - if accidentally - summed up what child's play the day had been as he joined the hoards of fans on the outfield at lunch and tea, to play a spot of cricket with his little son. His team, evidently, was taking care of itself and Davis was not the only man with a smile on his face and weight off his shoulders.

There has not been much to smile about in the last 12 months in these parts. Sussex sleepwalked their way - via a hideous injury list - to relegation in the season that nobody could afford to be relegated. They lost their long-time, highly-respected coach, Mark Robinson, to England Women. One of their players - a team-mate and friend to all and housemate to some - then died.

When this sombre season began, the injuries continued; they could not make it out of either white-ball group and their Championship campaign - while undefeated - has seen all manner of draws.

There remains time - five more games, three to promotion candidates, and another against Gloucestershire, which you think Sussex would fancy - for a promotion charge yet. Based on this showing, anything looks possible.

The batting was clinical; the admirable Matt Taylor plugged away and claimed David Wiese - caught on the pull - and Luke Wells, trapped in front, in the first hour, but that only allowed Brown and Jordan at Gloucestershire. Brown bristled, always looking to score, whether lumping down the ground, flicking fine, pulling meatily and cutting all and sundry. Jordan, fresh from a maiden ton last week, cover drove and flicked wristily to leg, ran mighty hard (between them they scampered 13 twos) but mainly just stood and admired; eventually Brown's ton, his second of the season, came from his 98th ball.

The pair fell in quick succession, both, curiously to Chris Dent's tame off-breaks and Sussex's innings folded soon after. They had 12 overs before tea to get stuck into Gloucestershire, who were without Luke Norwell - out of the game with concussion; he could not remember leaving the field after being hit by Jordan on Sunday.

Furthermore Graeme van Buuren could bat no higher than seven, having spent time off the field after a run-in with a boundary hoarding that left him not just with a bad shoulder, but missing a tooth, too. Things, believe it or not, were about to get a good deal more painful for Gloucestershire.

Those 12 overs before tea were enough for Steve Magoffin and Jordan to do for the top three. Magoffin pinned Will Tavare in front, so in came Benny Howell, deputising for Van Buuren. Jordan immediately had him in trouble, completely unaware of the locality of his off-stump and surviving five close shaves when leaving. Eventually, his middle stump went flying, bowled through the gate and, on the stroke of tea, Chris Dent - having looked fairly assured - took a wild slash and Brown did the rest.

The procession continued; Klinger, Sussex's scourge, nicked off driving Wiese, who many at the county - including Luke Wright - believe is giving the side a balance they have not enjoyed since Robin Martin-Jenkins retired in 2010. Danny Briggs's first ball did for Hamish Marshall, caught well at short leg by Christian Davis, before Phil Mustard - having ridden his luck against Jofra Archer - swept onto Davis, and the ball looped up behind square on the legside, with Jordan running 20 metres from slip to take a fine catch. Jordan then bowled full to dismiss Van Buuren and bounced out Craig Miles.

Faced by the brave Taylor brothers, the extra half-hour proved a bridge too far, with Jack smiting three handsome sixes on his way to 50, so back Sussex must come - briefly, surely - on Tuesday. Backs were still slapped as Sussex left the field; what a day they had had. "It's not the end of the world," Brown reflected, "the forecast is set fair, and we did everything we could tonight. To only need one more wicket? Blimey, we would have taken that this morning."