Hammond puts Gloucs in control - but Archer gets Sussex back in it

Jofra Archer brought Sussex back into it at the end of day two / Picture by Neil Marshall
Jofra Archer brought Sussex back into it at the end of day two / Picture by Neil Marshall

Miles Hammond produced a maiden first-class century packed with courage, patience and skill to put Gloucestershire in a decent position on the second day of the Specsavers County Championship match against Sussex at Cheltenham.

Born and bred in the town, the 22-year-old left-hander overcame an early blow on the helmet to strike 103 off 203 balls, with 20 fours, as his side ran up 303 for eight in reply to the visitors’ first innings total of 286.

Skipper Chris Dent contributed 65 to an opening stand of 182. Then James Bracey (34) and Gareth Roderick (48 not out) built on the efforts of the openers before Jofra Archer put a different complexion on the game by claiming three wickets in the penultmate over - the hosts ending on 303 for eight.

The Sussex bowling was far from toothless earlier in the day, Archer and Ollie Robinson, in particular, producing some pacey spells on a pitch still offering bounce and going past the bat on numerous occasions.

Hammond and Dent had to survive a torrid first hour, which saw the latter dropped by Phil Salt at third slip off Robinson, a straightforward chance, with his score on 14 and the total 44.

It proved a costly error. Before adding to his overnight 27, the unflappable Hammond had needed a few minutes to recover, having been struck by a short ball from Robinson. But soon the batsman with the famous Gloucestershire cricketing surname was producing a string of exquisite cover drives reminiscent of his illustrious predecessor, the late, great Wally Hammond, albeit left-handed.

That shot accounted for most of the 11 fours, which took Hammond to his half-century off 86 balls. When the stand with Dent reached 115 it was Gloucestershire’s highest opening partnership of the season.

Dent went to fifty off 151 balls, with 6 fours, having dropped anchor responsibly in the face of some testing seam bowling. By lunch he and Hammond had taken the total to 137.

They were eventually parted when Dent lost concentration and helped a delivery from left-arm spinner Danny Briggs, scooping a catch to Jofra Archer and short fine-leg.

Hammond reached three figures with a square cut boundary off David Weiss, but two balls later edged a wide one from the same bowler through to wicketkeeper Ben Brown. The young local product left the ground to a standing ovation, having marked only his fourth first class appearance, and his first since 2015, with an innings he will remember forever.

Roderick and Bracey then added 65 either side of tea before Bracey fell to the second new ball, lbw to Chris Jordan, trapped in his crease, with the total of 259.

Weiss bowled Graeme van Buuren on the back foot for 11 before Archer gained reward for his earlier labours by sending back nightwatchman George Drissell and Ryan Higgins with successive balls and having Kieran Noema-Barnett caught behind two deliveries later.

When Robinson pinned Craig Miles lbw in the final over, Gloucestershire had lost five wickets for eight runs to surrender much of the initiative.