England fans have become accustomed to big second innings knocks from Graeme Smith and another tomorrow would come in very handy indeed. He survived the 17 overs before the close with ease and will resume on 43. If the rain doesn't arrive, as it is forecast to do in patches, Surrey and Smith will have to endure a tense couple of sessions. The wicket still held few worries for the batsmen so it ought to be only pressure that will tell on Surrey.
Sussex resumed on 204-2 this morning in pursuit of a big first innings score. Having progressed slowly yesterday they knew they'd have to up the pace on the third day, and they did just that from the word go. 27 runs were scored in the first seven overs of the day as the new ball raced off the bat as it often does. Interestingly it was Tim Linley rather than Chris Tremlett that Graeme Smith tossed the new ball to. It was just reward for the pick of the bowlers and hopefully he's now done enough to earn himself a regular place in the side.
There was however no breakthrough for the bowlers as Wells and Joyce continued to accumulate runs at a good pace. Joyce was dropped on 69, offering a very tough chance to Gary Wilson but that aside there were few alarms. Joyce had moved serenely on to 98 when Gareth Batty broke through almost out of nowhere - as he had done last week with the wicket of Alviro Petersen in the 90s.
After a short spell of rain Sussex again looked to pick up the pace. They couldn't have hoped for a better man to do so than Matt Prior. He duly delivered a 36 ball 50 (having been dropped on 18 by Solanki) and by the time he was out to the bowling of Dernbach Sussex had established a lead of 40. Luke Wells had meanwhile moved to a quite superb double hundred, he's now scored 28% of his first class runs against Surrey.
Although Hamilton-Brown, Ben Brown and Chris Jordan kept the score moving Sussex may feel slightly disappointed that they didn't force their lead to the 200 mark, rather than the 175 they eventually reached. Nonetheless they were well ahead in the match with a day and half a session to play. On a side note, Chris Tremlett's solitary wicket (that of Monty Panesar) in 28 overs was not the dramatic return to first class cricket many had hoped for. The Surrey seamers will be wondering when the wickets at the Oval might start to offer them a bit more assistance.
When Rory Burns was caught behind off the bowling of Steve Magoffin Surrey fans could have been forgiven for fearing the worst. However first innings hero Gary Wilson and captain Smith saw the side safely to close on 66 for 1.
If a full day's play is possible tomorrow could be a fascinating day. There's no hope of anything other than a draw or a Sussex win, but there's still a lot of cricket to be played.