Chris Jordan started the second day at Castle Park by taking the last four Essex wickets to fall - and ended it frustrating the home bowlers with an unbeaten 59.
Jordan took four wickets for five runs in 6.5 overs as Essex added just 21 to their overnight score in the process of adding one more batting bonus point to their Specsavers County Championship promotion push. Then, in the evening, in the company of fellow Barbadian Jofra Archer, Jordan rescued Sussex from a perilous 173 for six after a collapse either side of tea.
Ed Joyce and Chris Nash put on 124 for the first wicket, but when they were parted Sussex lost six wickets for 49 runs in 18 overs.
However, any hope Essex had of pressing home their advantage evaporated as Jordan and Archer matched each other almost run for run in an unbroken partnership of 119 for the seventh wicket. Archer was 60 at the close.
Joyce had dominated the opening stand to the extent that when Nash square-cut David Masters to bring up the century stand, he had 74 to his partner’s 26. The Irishman hit 13 fours in a 119-ball 92, including a succession of crisp boundaries sent scudding through the covers plus one particularly noteworthy cut off Graham Napier.
Nash was the first to go, having played the anchor role with 35 off 99 balls before he gave low catch to wicketkeeper James Foster off Masters. He was quickly followed by Luke Wells, who hooked Napier to Porter at fine leg.
Joyce’s attractive knock was ended when he top-edged Porter to Tom Moore at deep fine leg and Moore had David Wiese caught by Nick Browne diving forward at first slip.
The tea interval didn’t stem the tide. Ben Brown tried to work Napier to midwicket, got there too early and was caught by Moore, and then Luke Wright flicked at Masters down legside to give Foster another victim.
But Jordan and Archer steadied the innings before accelerating in the evening. Archer, 21, outscored his more experienced partner initially with a flurry of well-struck boundaries, and took Sussex past the follow-on threshold by hooking Porter for six. Not to be outdone, Jordan pulled ten Doeschate over the ropes.
Archer reached his maiden first-class fifty from 79 deliveries (eight fours, one six) a ball before Jordan when he cut Dan Lawrence for a single. Jordan stroked a four through the offside to pass the mark from 65 balls (fours fours, one six) and bring up the century partnership in 22 overs.
Earlier, Essex’s last four wickets lasted just 55 minutes in the morning in a spell of unrelenting accuracy and menace from Jordan. It was a turnaround from the first day when the England bowler had toiled through 24 overs and taken nought for 94. By noon, he had figures of four for 99, including three wickets in 14 balls.
The first to go was Ashar Zaidi, in the fifth over of the day, caught behind as he chased a wide one. Nightwatchman Porter went next, shuffling in front of his stumps for a patent lbw.
Masters, who had brought up Essex’s fourth batting point with an extra off his helmet, gave wicketkeeper Brown a second catch of the day before Moore had his off-stump pegged back.
Napier was eight not out at the end, but could easily have provided another wicket for Jordan when he was dropped at third slip where David Wiese threw himself to his right but couldn’t hold on.
Archer did not add to his first-day three-wicket haul, but still had enough venom in his deliveries to cause the batsmen to hurry to the other end where Jordan was waiting. The pair, though, were not finished for the day.
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