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Jon Culley at North Marine Road
August 18, 2014
Yorkshire 493 (Williamson 189, Bairstow 77, Bresnan 61, Wells 3-38) and 106 for 1 beat Sussex 368 (Joyce 130, Cachopa 53, Wright 52, Rashid 3-32) and 230 (Wright 113, Bresnan 3-60) by nine wickets
Despite a superb 113 from Luke Wright, Yorkshire eventually completed a comfortable victory that keeps them ahead of Nottinghamshire in the race for the County Championship, in which the contenders each have three matches to run and is now realistically a three-horse race, with Warwickshire the outsiders.
Yorkshire's lead over Nottinghamshire is extended, in fact, by one point to six, with Warwickshire a further 15 points behind in third place, having effectively ended Somerset's hopes with their win at Taunton. Nottinghamshire kept Yorkshire in their sights with a five-wicket victory over Northamptonshire, who are all but doomed, which made it particularly important that Andrew Gale's side did not let this opportunity slip through their grasp.
This was acknowledged afterwards by Tim Bresnan, who took what was effectively the match-winning wicket when he dismissed Wright in the afternoon session.
"It was not a must-win game because there are three important games left in the season," Bresnan said. "But we knew that Nottinghamshire had a chance to leapfrog us in the table so it is nice to stay in front of them. We have a game against Notts to come and that is the one we are targeting as crucial.
"Having said that, it is important that we keep our focus on the next game against Lancashire at Old Trafford, because they are a good side despite where they are in the table.
"There is a great atmosphere in the dressing room right now, as you would expect, and we feel that if we can win one, hopefully two, of our last three games and get a good draw in the other one, we will be there or thereabouts."
Blustery showers delayed the start, with a fierce gale blowing in off the North Sea. The smug faces on the cliff-top paths belonged to those holidaymakers wise enough to bring a decent anorak.
The counter-attack launched by Wright on Sunday evening continued, but Yorkshire remained confident that wickets would fall at the other end, no matter how well the England limited-overs specialist put bat to ball.
He did play well, too, adding to the argument that his four-day cricket deserves more respect than it tends to be given. He made 113, his third first-class century of the season and his fifth in the last two summers, over which his first-class average stands at 60.88.
Wright was the main reason why Yorkshire endured a morning of frustration, cut short by five overs, before Sussex wickets began to fall, although a catching chance put down by Tim Bresnan at fourth slip, when Steffan Piolet was on 15, and a missed opportunity to run out Wright on 69 when Ryan Sidebottom's throw failed to hit the stumps did not help.
The breakthrough came just before lunch, when Piolet, whose support for Wright had already taken him to his best Championship score for Sussex, edged a ball from Steve Patterson, the best of Yorkshire's bowlers in this match, to Kane Williamson at third slip.
Patterson claimed another victim after the break with no addition to the score, as Ben Brown was leg-before, after which it was the introduction of Bresnan at the Trafalgar Square end with 55 overs left in the day that brought the important breakthrough.
Wright, whose innings was characterised in the confident aggression with which he reached 100, driving Adil Rashid through the covers for his 16th boundary, had added one more four when he pushed forward to Bresnan's fourth delivery and was leg before, at which Bresnan celebrated in the manner of Jack Brooks, peeling away on a sweeping run towards the hospitality marquee, where he happened to run into the Headband Warrior himself, who did a little hop before the two embraced.
After Wright's departure, Sussex added only 29 for the last three wickets, which left Yorkshire with a target of 106 runs to win with 39 overs left in the day. They knocked them off with time to spare, losing only Alex Lees, who had smacked one big six off James Tredwell and was looking for another when he top edged a ball from Matt Hobden and was caught at mid-off.
Mark Robinson, the former Yorkshire quick who is Sussex's head coach, pointed out that without Chris Jordan and James Anyon to support Steve Magoffin it was never going to be an even contest against a side he considers as strong as any. But he could not conceal his affection for his former county, nor the fact that he would be delighted to see them take the title. "They are a great county with a passion for producing great cricketers and it is important for English cricket that Yorkshire prosper," he said.
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