Yorkshire batsmen learn hard lessons
Yorkshire 96 and 228 for 8 (Jaques 57, Magoffin 4-50) trail Sussex 356 (Brown 93, Joyce 92, Nash 80) by 32 runs
Division One cricket is a hard school and that is precisely as it should be. Such a state of affairs is something which Yorkshiremen of the Close and Trueman generation would applaud. Jason Gillespie and Andrew Gale have also been full of praise for the top tier of English cricket and virtually every Yorkshire player has been keen to say how much they were looking forward to testing themselves against the best in the land once again.
All of which will make their signal failure to live with a dynamic Sussex team over much of the first three days of this match all the more galling. Yorkshire's batting on the first day was mediocre, their bowling on the second mostly anaemic and their batting on Friday, with the honourable exception of Phil Jaques, error-strewn until Gary Ballance and Ryan Sidebottom added 80 runs for the eighth wicket in 29 overs. When the umpires took the players off nine overs before the scheduled close the home side were 228 for 8 and will almost certainly suffer their first four-day defeat in 19 games at some stage on Saturday morning.
Sussex's cricket, by contrast, has been dynamic, purposeful and skilled. Jaques, whose 57 was largely responsible for his team's showing, before Sidebottom and Ballance came together, admitted that Ed Joyce's men had "come at Yorkshire hard" and that his team had been second-best for much of the contest.
On the third day, that flinty approach was personified by Steve Magoffin, who removed Jaques with a fine delivery and then induced Azeem Rafiq to play on next ball. When the Australian bowled Liam Plunkett after tea - the entire morning session had been lost to rain - a three-day finish beckoned and, indeed, this would have been a two-day affair but for earlier interruptions.
Other Sussex bowlers also enjoyed success; Joyce's attack hunted as a ravenous pack. However, they found some Yorkshire batsmen only too ready to cooperate in their own demise. Adam Lyth was the first to go, essaying an airy waft down the leg side off James Anyon. The same bowler then dismissed the Gale three balls later, the captain's tentative push being the limpest of efforts in a tough situation for his team.
Jonny Bairstow added 39 with Jaques but a straight, good-length ball from Jordan defeated his expansive drive. This pitch may not have been the easiest to bat on over the course of the match and Jaques' astute point that bowling a side out for 96 inevitably gives the opposition's batsmen a measure of freedom is very valid, but it still remains true that the Yorkshire top order will need to sell their wickets far more dearly over the next five months if they are to cope with the best county attacks in the land.