Glamorgan 294 (Meschede 87, Selman 58, Robinson 4-46, Archer 3-67, Jordan 3-82) and 126 for 6 (Robinson 3-29) lead Sussex 268 (Brown 77, Meschede 4-61) by 215 runs
In an age of transient loyalties and mercenary attachments this has been a game in which deeper ties have often been evident. They were first apparent in the selection by Glamorgan of seven players with Welsh roots and some of these cricketers were responsible for their side being slightly in the ascendant… until they collapsed to 104 for 6 on the second evening of this game.
Yet Sussex fosters its own strong, strange allegiances and in no one are these more proudly displayed than Ben Brown, who took three catches in that evening session and may lead his side to their sixth victory of the season at some stage on the third afternoon.
Certain players are as closely linked to their county as its crest, its landscape or the nature of its light. Brown is one such cricketer. Born in Crawley, educated at Ardingly and, since May, the skipper of Sussex, he identifies the moment when he was capped in 2014 as the best of his career.
So perhaps we should have expected that Brown would hold his side's first innings together when it was in severe peril. His 77 runs were largely responsible for Glamorgan's lead being limited to only 26, albeit that such an advantage had seemed improbable when he opted to bowl on Monday morning.
Sussex were 109 for 5 when Brown went out to bat. He had already seen Angus Robson bowled middle stump by Ruairdhri Smith when letting the fifth ball of the morning go and he had watched Luke Wright yorked by the same bowler for 5. All notions that this game would be a two-day stroll against unmotivated opponents had long been cast away. When Brown was last man out, bowled by the excellent Craig Meschede, another 159 runs had been added, some of them by batsmen whose stays at the wicket smacked of galloping instability.
It was a harum-scarum morning session. Sussex scored 133 runs in 30 overs but lost five wickets in doing so. The most fluent batting was provided by Chris Nash, who hit nine boundaries, most of them off Michael Hogan, in his 38-ball 42. But after Nash had been caught by Aneurin Donald at second slip when dabbing at a wide one from Meschede, a trio of batsmen came and went like Latin American dictators: promising their supporters much, achieving little and rarely staying long.
Chris Jordan, David Wiese and Ollie Robinson all fell into this unfortunate category. The major benefit of each of their innings was that it allowed, Brown, an epitome of stability, to accumulate more singles or stroke some of his 11 boundaries. There are a good number of Sussex supporters at Colwyn Bay this week and they may have wondered how differently their season might have unfolded had not their captain's broken thumb restricted him to five championship matches.
Arguably Brown's most impressive partner was Jofra Archer, who has hit three-first class fifties this summer and must be the most accomplished No11 on the circuit, not that he will bat before the roller for too long. Archer added another 27 runs to the 372 he has already scored in Division One games, driving three fours which were quite as assured as those hit by anyone else. When Brown was bowled, playing back when perhaps he should have gone forward to Meschede, Archer could at least be content that the home side's lead had been kept within bounds.
But Glamorgan have mocked people's lowly expectations of them for long stretches of this game and so it was again in the heart of this afternoon's session. By tea that 26-run lead had been extended to 86 for the loss of Nick Selman's wicket; neither Owen Morgan nor Jack Murphy had appeared discomfited by Brown's four seamers and it took a major effort by the Sussex attack to wrench the game into a different shape.
The first batsman to be dismissed in the evening session was Morgan, who poked in ugly fashion at a ball outside the off stump from Robinson and nicked a catch to the safe hands of Jordan at first slip. Then Murphy fenced at Jordan but seemed astonished to be given out caught at the wicket for 27, his mystification all the more understandable given that the appeal had hardly been a triumphal chorus by the Brighton Male Voice Choir.
Glamorgan's gloom deepened. When Aneurin Donald drove Jordan to backward point where Angus Robson dived to take a fine two-handed catch, they had lost three wickets for seven runs in 18 balls. Neither Kiran Carlson nor Andrew Salter could halt the slide, the pair falling to catches by Brown off Robinson and Archer, and for the first time for well over a day, Sussex were clearly dominant.
Predictably, perhaps, Meschede and Tom Cullen halted their side's decline by adding 22 runs in 12 overs before the players came off for bad light. Glamorgan's lead is 151 and another 40 runs or so would offer Sussex's batsmen a considerable test on a wicket where accurate seam bowling has generally been well rewarded. The destination of one of the Second Division's promotion places may well depend on what happens in this corner of North Wales over the next 24 hours.