Bob Willis Trophy: Essex take four Sussex wickets on a rain-hit second day

Simon Harmer
Simon Harmer has been Essex's star bowler in the Bob Willis Trophy
Bob Willis Trophy, 1st Central County Ground (day two):
Sussex 155-6: Salt 57; Porter 3-43
Essex: Yet to bat
Sussex 0 pts, Essex 2 pts

Simon Harmer produced another impressive performance for Essex on a rain-affected second day against Sussex in the Bob Willis Trophy at Hove.

The South African off-spinner bowled 16 overs unchanged to pick up two more wickets to add to the 20 he has already taken in Essex's previous matches against Kent and Surrey.

The 31-year-old sent down nine maidens and removed skipper Ben Brown and Delray Rawlins with Sussex 155-6 from 61 overs when rain drove the players off just before lunch.

The rain eventually gave way to bright sunshine but after a second inspection at 17:00 BST, umpires Ian Gould and Mark Newell decided there would be no further play because of a wet outfield with the run-ups a particular concern. Just 31 overs had been possible.

With two days left it is difficult to see how south group leaders Essex can chisel out a third victory out of three, although while they have Harmer there is always a chance.

Harmer's 16 overs cost just 21 runs and although only the occasional delivery turned off the straight, Sussex's batsmen - most of whom were encountering

Harmer for the first time in red-ball cricket - could do little more than survive because of his consistent line and length.

Sussex skipper Brown looked to attack and came down the pitch to deposit him beyond mid-on in the 41st over after Harmer for once dropped slightly short, but Brown departed in his next over when attempting to hit over the top again only to offer an easy catch to Paul Walter at mid-on.

Rawlins was similarly determined not to get tied down but he misjudged a sweep, the ball looping up off his glove to Alastair Cook at slip for seven.

There was not much respite at the other end for Sussex who had resumed on 93 for two under overcast skies and with the floodlights quickly in use. A slow outfield did not always give batsmen full value for their shots either.

Jamie Porter, who removed both Sussex openers on a rain-affected first day, was as effective as Harmer in drying up the runs.

He picked up his third wicket of the innings in the third over of the day when Harry Finch edged to slip attempting a forcing shot off the back foot. Porter sent down six overs in his pre-lunch spell at a cost of just seven runs with three maidens.

Teenager Tom Clark took 30 balls before he got off mark with a thick edge off Porter to the third man boundary but he looked the most secure of the Sussex batsmen, defending solidly against Harmer and looking for scoring opportunities against the seam bowlers.

But having survived for 97 minutes and reached 21 from 82 balls, the 19-year-old left-hander was superbly caught low down at backward point by substitute fielder Feroze Khushi for 21 to give Aaron Beard his first wicket.

Aaron Thomason has so far resisted for nearly an hour for 14 and George Garton is unbeaten on eight.

Sussex batsman Tom Clark:

"It was a great experience to face some really good bowling on a pitch that was doing a bit. When I came in on the first day it was very tough and it was the same again against the likes of Simon Harmer and Jamie Porter who have so much experience.

"The only way you are going to learn is to face the best bowlers so I was pleased that I managed to stay out there for quite a long while and get some runs.

"It is great to be getting this opportunity in this competition. Jason Gillespie is trusting us during these games to play with freedom and it's been very enjoyable."

Essex bowling coach Andre Nel:

"When we won the toss we weren't sure what to do. The overheads suggested bowl but records say it's a good batting deck so to get six wickets in the play we've had and go for less than three runs an over has been a good effort.

"Simon Harmer does what he does but the seam bowlers at the other end have supported him well by keeping the pressure on.

"If we can take the other four wickets quickly then bat as much time as we can we'll see where it takes us. We've got good momentum in this competition."

Match report supplied by PA Media.