Sussex 351 for 8 dec (Beer 97, Wiese 67) drew with Gloucestershire 444 for 6 dec (Roderick 158, Higgins 119*)
Chris Jordan runs in from the Castle End and bowls to Benny Howell. The good-length ball is on off stump and Howell plays it safely to cover where Harry Finch trots in to field. Gentle applause comes from the supporters gathered on the bank by the sightscreen. This game against Gloucestershire will be drawn but the start of every day at Arundel deserves its own gentle accolade. Two swallows harry each other above the sycamores and elms.
Forty-one miles away at the Rose Bowl, the fall of West Indian wickets is greeted with roars of acclaim but roaring has never been Arundel's style. On the second Friday in June England accommodates both the heaving stadia of the World Cup and the pastoral glory of West Sussex.
There is a sudden shower at ten to twelve and for a few moments this peerless ground is gauzed by rain. Before midday, though, sunlight is sweeping back over the outfield and the players have returned. At half-past twelve Howell is leg before to what looked like Will Beer's top-spinner and on the stroke of lunch Ollie Robinson scatters Jack Taylor's off and middle stumps with the new ball. These are not negligible successes. Sussex and Gloucestershire are both pressing for bonus points in a Second Division the shape of which few predicted in April.
For example, it does not matter only to Swansea's Balconeers when play gets under way 211 miles away in the match between Glamorgan and Derbyshire at St Helen's. And from the top of that hill-top pavilion spectators see Benny Godleman eventually fall lbw to Lukas Carey for 227. But fourth-placed Derbyshire bat on in the hope of embarrassing second-placed Glamorgan
At the Rose Bowl, Jofra Archer is on a hat-trick. At Arundel, Archer's county colleagues try to prevent Gareth Roderick reaching his first century of the season but the Gloucestershire batsman drives Abi Sakande sweetly through mid-off and gives a little skip of delight. It is his first hundred since he made 102 against Essex at Cheltenham in 2016. He receives a warm round of applause from spectators who have spent their winters waiting for afternoons like this. The ground relaxes into the fresh sunlight of watercolour; it is the best weather of this cloud-benighted week.
In Swansea, Derbyshire call a halt on 598 for 5 but Glamorgan's batsmen stand firm.
Their Gloucestershire counterparts are more ambitious and score 162 runs in the afternoon session on a very flat pitch. "Too benign" the Sussex coach, Jason Gillespie, will call Arundel's wicket and there is great justice in his remark. Roderick makes 158 before he does well to reach one from Robinson and is caught behind by Ben Brown. At the other end Ryan Higgins clumps Beer and Luke Wells over midwicket for sixes. All these strokes are duly applauded and some Gloucestershire supporters wonder if their side might be one of the three to win promotion this year. Leaders Lancashire are probably stronger favourites to win the title than they were a couple of months ago but when this day's play began the next eight sides were covered by 23 points.
The cricket after tea is played for duty and in a light-hearted atmosphere rarely possible in the English season. Spectators remain in faithful attendance on the bank. They care that England are beating West Indies but this is the cricket they prefer to watch. Gloucestershire's 400 comes up and Higgins reaches his second century of the season with a cover drive off Laurie Evans. By the end of the game he will have made a career-best 119 not out. Robinson bowls off-spin and Wells bowls seam up. With all possible points decided and the result of the game certain, the players gently mock each other's efforts. Danny Briggs keeps to the very occasional slow left-arm of Brown. No one mentions spin.
At Swansea Glamorgan lose only a couple of wickets and Derbyshire use eight bowlers, two fewer than Sussex employ at Arundel. England complete victory over West Indies but people say some of the gloss may have been taken off the win by a couple of injuries. Sussex and Gloucestershire's players shake hands at 4.50pm, which is the earliest time the draw can be agreed. All but one of the Championship matches this week have ended in rain-wrecked draws and there is therefore some irony in the bright sunlight which blesses this Friday evening at Arundel. Some spectators are reluctant to leave and sit near the famous gap in the trees, taking in the Arun valley or the Cathedral. The Norfolk flag flutters in the brisk wind.