Laurie Evans hit his maiden Specsavers County Championship century for Sussex – and first in the competition in four years – to lead a final session fightback against Worcestershire at Kidderminster.
Evans came to the crease with Sussex in deep trouble but he and in-form captain Ben Brown rescued their side from 34-4 with a partnership of 157 in 37 overs.
Brown eventually departed for 64 – his sixth fifty plus in the last seven innings – but Evans was not to be denied his first hundred in the competition since moving from Warwickshire at the end of the 2016 season.
Often regarded as a white ball specialist, Evans demonstrated his capabilities in the longer format of the game as he completed the sixth first class century of his career. He went to three figures off 140 balls with a cover drive off Worcestershire club captain Joe Leach for his 16th four in addition to hitting a six off Ross Whiteley over fine leg.
It could not have been better timed after Sussex’s early woes when faced with a first innings deficit of 128. By the close they had recovered sufficiently to reach 236-5 – a lead of 108.
It initially went to plan for Worcestershire as Leach, Adam Finch, Ed Barnard and Parnell all picked up one wicket in reducing the visitors to 34-4. Luke Wells (0) was lbw to the fifth ball of the innings from Leach whose new ball partner Finch forced Harry Finch (4) to chop onto his stumps.
Barnard added to Sussex’s woes when his first delivery forced a leading edge out of Will Beer (9) who lobbed up a simple return catch. Stiaan van Zyl (18) then fell to a superb catch by Josh Dell at cover off Parnell. But Parnell left the field clutching his left hamstring shortly afterwards and did not bowl again today.
Leach also had a spell on the side-lines with a spasm in his right buttock before returning to deliver a second spell deep into the final session. Brown and Evans prospered and scored freely in reaching their half centuries in successive overs off 81 and 84 balls respectively. Barnard broke through when Brown (64) top edged a catch to fine leg but Evans remained unbeaten on 106 at the close.
Worcestershire’s strength in depth with their batting line-up had been highlighted as they extended their overnight score from 262-6 to 383 all out during the morning session despite Ollie Robinson completing a five wicket haul.
Sussex were able to take the second new ball immediately after the resumption and Robinson made the first breakthrough of the day when Cox (61) pushed forward and nicked through to keeper Ben Brown. His 105 ball knock contained seven fours.
Robinson struck again when D’Oliveira (31) was lbw with the total 296-8 but then Parnell followed up his first innings haul of four wickets by stretching the lead in partnership with Leach to sizeable proportions. The ninth wicket pair added 68 in 15 overs before the Parnell was bowled by Luke Wells for 43. Leach (54 not out) reached a half century with a six over long on from Robinson in addition to eight fours.
But he was left unbeaten on 54 as Robinson completed a five wicket haul by bowling Finch (0) and ended with figures of 29.5-4-84-5.
Evans said: “It (my first Championship hundred for Sussex) has been a long time coming and a long time overdue. It’s your first Championship hundred for four years? I thought someone might bring that up! I’ve only played about seven (Championship) games in that whole period.
“My first class career leaves so much for debate. I don’t really know what happened to it. But it was great to get out there and get a hundred. The red ball game is lot tougher than the white ball game and more mentally challenging, tests your technique and everything, but also probably the most rewarding.
“I’m a white ball cricketer plying my trade around the world but the most valuable runs are always first class runs and down the years that is what you are judged on. I’m overjoyed with the hard work I put in and just really happy and now a big day tomorrow for the boys. The job is not done just yet.
“I was just trying to get myself in, get myself moving, get used to the surface. I’ve not spent a lot of time in the middle recently and I certainly don’t feel like I’m at full flow from ball one.
“Browny (Ben Brown) is good company to be with in the middle because he’s making it look extremely easy and that shows how much hard work he has put in to get into that position. It was a tough situation (34-4) when we came together but we tried to have a little counter-attack and run well and be positive and it came off.
“The pitch is still doing a bit. The surface is very dry and there is always something happening. You don’t feel in danger for a long time and then all of a sudden the ball does something.”