Ali Orr, Tom Clark find form at the last to give Sussex upper hand

Tom Clark drives on his way to a fifty Getty Images

Sussex 202 and 256 for 3 (Clark 72, Orr 67, Coles 51*) lead Gloucestershire 195 (Hammond 48, Carson 3-19, Currie 3-36, Hunt 3-52) by 263 runs

It's been a disappointing season for Sussex County Cricket Club - and their two left-handers, Ali Orr and Tom Clark, have suffered more than most.

Orr has missed almost the entire season through injury and though Clark has played he has consistently struggled to find his best form. But against Gloucestershire, on the second day of their LV= Insurance County Championship match, the pair shared a joyous second-wicket stand of 120 to suggest there will be better times ahead.

Their partnership formed the foundation stone of a Sussex second-innings score of 256 for three, placing them 263 runs ahead of Gloucestershire with two days remaining.

Orr made a quite return to the side at Derby last week, scoring 10 and 12. But here he scored an impressive 67, while Clark, who was Sussex's best batsman in Derby, with 71 runs for once out, maintained his form with a fine 72, though he will be disappointed not to have gone on to make his first century of the season.

Sussex went in to bat a second time 50 minutes before lunch, with a slender first-innings lead of seven runs. Tom Haines - yet another Sussex left-hander who would like to move on from 2023 - fell for four, caught in the gully as he attempted to run the ball down to third man, a soft dismissal. At lunch Sussex were 29 for one, with Orr on 14, from 41 deliveries, and Clark on five, off 18.

But after the interval Ali Orr suddenly remembered that he was Ali Orr. He hoisted Zafar Gohar over wide mid-on for six to raise the Sussex fifty. In the next over he struck Ollie Price for a straight six and then cut him for four before pulling a short one from Zafar over midwicket for another four to reach his half-century. He hit Josh Shaw for another six over midwicket before he played on to the same bowler. There were seven fours and four sixes in his knock.

There were no sixes for Clark. But there were eleven fours in his measured innings and he scored almost as fluently as Orr, though he became becalmed after the loss of his partner and was then bowled by one that came in from Matt Taylor, who once again bowled impressively after his starring role on the opening day.

Tom Alsop dropped anchor for a solid and unbeaten 46 but at the other end James Coles, after a quiet start, outdid both Orr and Clark in terms of strike rate, thumping Zafar for 14 in three balls and reaching his fifty off 39 balls before the players came off for bad light with 15 overs remaining.

In the morning, Gloucestershire had batted for another hour, effectively transforming the match into a one-innings affair.

Resuming on 136 for six, still 66 runs behind, they initially struggled with the heaving clouds and bad light. They had added just one when, in the second over of the day, Zafar edged Brad Currie to Clark at second slip. And in the following over Clark was again the catcher as Ed Middleton edged Sean Hunt.

But then, in an echo of the Sussex first innings, there was a late-order revival. Taylor and Shaw added 54 for the ninth wicket in ten overs before the belated introduction of off-spinner Jack Carson, who wrapped up the innings with two wickets in as many overs.

Gloucs 4th innings Partnerships

1st12CDJ DentBG Charlesworth
2nd13JR BraceyBG Charlesworth
3rd12JR BraceyOJ Price
4th12MAH HammondOJ Price
5th55GL van BuurenOJ Price
6th18Zafar GoharGL van Buuren
7th0GL van BuurenMD Taylor
8th33GL van BuurenJ Shaw
9th18GL van BuurenZaman Akhter