Yorks held up by diligent Brown
Sussex 276 for 9 (Brown 78*, Sidebottom 3-44) Yorkshire
There was a curious atmosphere of immediacy and timelessness at Hove on the first day of this game: immediacy because Yorkshire now lie second in the Division One table and clearly need a win this week; timelessness because this is the penultimate first-class match of the season at this ground and the pull of Hove's rich history and famously varied architecture is made even more powerful by the arrival of autumn.
The contrast remained in one's mind throughout the day. Yorkshire's attack mastered the conditions in the late morning and one was reminded that a brisk, skittish breeze and the ground's slope to the sea were problems over which bowlers like Maurice Tate and Tony Buss also triumphed. Their successes, though, did not take Sussex to the title; that moment in time did not arrive until 2003. Yorkshire, meanwhile, had won their first County Championship in 1893 and hope to celebrate their sesquicentennial anniversary with their 31st outright crown.
By close of play, Andrew Gale's men had made good progress towards winning this game. An attack which, in professional parlance, is "always at you" had limited Sussex to 276 for 9, a very decent effort on a flat pitch. Weather permitting, Yorkshire's powerful batting line-up will hope to build a significant first-innings lead on the next two days of this game.
The main obstacle towards Yorkshire claiming an even more decisive advantage came in the shape of Ben Brown, whose sparkling 93 had been a highlight of his side's innings win at Headingley back in April. Here, Brown combined with Steve Magoffin to add 74 runs for the eighth wicket, as Adam Lyth's failure to take a straightforward slip catch off Steve Patterson's bowling when the Sussex wicketkeeper-batsman had 14 to his name assumed greater importance with every over that passed.
After a first hour of play in which the conditions had caused Gale's attack to struggle, Yorkshire ended the morning session in a dominant position with Sussex on 117 for 5. That was remarkable given that the home side were 58 for 1 after 14.3 overs with both Chris Nash and Michael Yardy going well. But Liam Plunkett, the third bowler to be tried from the troublesome Sea End in the first hour, produced the ball of the day to account for Nash, who could be forgiven for not being able to cope with the movement and lift the former Durham seamer generated.
From that point on Sussex's batsmen contributed a little to their side's demise, Yardy chopping a ball from Plunkett on to the stumps and Ed Joyce being bowled behind his legs by Sidebottom for just 3. Rory Hamilton-Brown, his attacking shots invariably more impressive than his defensive efforts, then whacked Kane Williamson's gentle and deceptive offspin for two leg-side sixes before the last ball of the same over defeated him with oh-so-gentle turn.
Conditions eased a little for bowling in the afternoon. The wind dropped, the atmosphere became a little heavier and the Yorkshire attack bowled rather straighter. Patterson tore out Matt Prior's off pole two overs after the resumption, with a ball that defeated what looked a copybook forward defensive shot. Sussex debutant Ashar Zaidi, a well-travelled league professional who scored 192 not out and took six wickets for Sussex's second team against Durham just last week, batted coolly, albeit for just 17, before being pinned on the crease by Sidebottom.
That left the home side on 164 for 7 but Lyth's lapse at slip and the good sense shown by Brown and Magoffin shifted the balance of the day quite markedly, as the weather closed in and September's less-benevolent aspect enveloped the ground. Brown looked a good player in making 78 not out while Magoffin exhibited admirable good sense: if the ball was pitched up, he drove it; if it was short, he kept it out.
Only when the Australian seamer chased a wide-ish one from Sidebottom two overs after tea did his technique let him down. By then, though, he had made 25 and helped to change the complexion of the day's cricket. The last significant action took place in gathering gloom, when James Anyon was bowled by Williamson. Mark Benson and Steve O'Shaughnessy took the players off soon afterwards. We shall see how good Sussex's eventual total is over the next couple of days, hoping the forecast rain escapes this tiny portion of the coast. For it can be on such matters of meteorology that titles are decided.