Sussex 552 (Salt 130, Haines 124, Burgess 96, Finch 56, Brown 52) beat Durham 211 (Smith 90, Wiese 4-33) and 277 (Poynter 84) by an innings and 64 runs
Durham spectators arriving around an hour late at the Castle Ground on the third morning of this match would probably have been reassured to see Will Smith batting. They would also have been keen to see their side's first-innings score. Sadly their initial assumption was mistaken and their consequent keenness was soon replaced by grisly despair.
Rather than beginning again in the manner of centurions, Smith had been dismissed for his overnight 90 when sweeping at Danny Briggs' fifth ball of the morning. And having walked off this glorious meadow at just after eleven o'clock Smith was now back again some 67 minutes later, less time than it takes the Duke of Norfolk's under-butler to clean a piece of silver.
For his departure had been followed by five more as Durham lost their last six wickets for nine runs in 11 overs of mayhem. Batsmen arrived and departed with a rapidity that would have done credit to a hard-pressed GP's surgery. David Wiese took three wickets in seven balls and finished with 4 for 33; Briggs had Gareth Harte caught behind for 13 on a morning when double figures might have prompted a bat raised in irony.
An already bad session soon degenerated into the worst day of a season in which Paul Collingwood's side have offered occasional indications that they grappling their way out of their travails. By six o'clock Durham's supporters were reflecting on the loss of 16 wickets for 286 runs and their side's innings and 64-run defeat. Not even the view over the Arun valley could console the Gateshead loyalists. Only Stuart Poynter's 84 in the evening session had offered them anything to cheer.
That early clatter of wickets was an enormous bonus for Sussex. Having not needed his new-ball bowlers during the bedlam, skipper Ben Brown had no qualms about enforcing the follow-on. A disconcertingly frisky Jofra Archer then brought one sharply back off the pitch to bowl a strokeless Cameron Steel for 8 and Durham lunched in the bleak knowledge they had lost seven wickets for 65 runs.
The afternoon session brought no relief as another five batsmen were dismissed while 95 runs were scored. Yet such collapses seem out of place at Arundel. Frenetic drama does not sit well in this absurdly idyllic setting. "Good morning, campers" said Mike Charman, the Sussex scorer and PA announcer, when welcoming the early arrivals. Such benevolence is entirely typical of a ground whose many perfections greet spectators and strain their belief.
Charman is the sort of good-hearted bloke who does not broadcast an outgoing batsman's score when he has made nought. It was a kindness he had to exercise on five occasions during Friday's cricket. In the afternoon session, as cricket drifted into the heart of the day, Charman announced the winners of the raffle, advertised other games and wished Nicola a happy birthday.
But there was little to buoy Durham's travelling band until Poynter put on 79 for the eighth wicket with Nathan Rimmington. Long before that, Tom Latham had been bowled between bad and pad by Ollie Robinson and Smith had been brilliantly caught at what was effectively third slip by Harry Finch off Wiese. Two balls later Collingwood was leg before for nought when playing across the line and Briggs then picked up Harte and Graham Clark. As so often, batting errors had spurred the bowlers to excellence and that in turn had prompted further error. Poynter's defiance ended when he was lbw swinging across the line to Briggs and Archer's caught and bowled ended the match next over.
Sussex supporters applauded it all. Their side is playing fine cricket and their only regret was that there will now be no cricket at this ground on Saturday.
I reckon--when I count at all--
First--Poets--Then the Sun--
Then Summer--Then the Heaven of God--
And then--the List is done--
To that list in Emily Dickinson's poem, supporters at Arundel, Tunbridge Wells and Scarborough would add the joys of watching cricket, albeit some of those joys appear, in the eyes of outsiders, extraneous to the game. Such folk circle the county festivals on the calendar in winter's depths and they have gone out these Midsummer mornings confident that life will treat them well; they have not been disappointed.
They reckon - when they count at all - cricketing days at the outgrounds: the high heat of June afternoons, Academy lads like Phil Salt and Tom Haines, smoke drifting from valley cottages, ash, sycamore and Douglas-fir trees, skylarks, and the soft light of perfect evenings.