Yorkshire v Sussex, LV= Championship, Division One, Headingley, 4th day September 25, 2015

Brooks brings down the blinds on Sussex


Yorkshire 251 (Ballance 55, Rashid 53, Magoffin 4-57) and 305 (Gale 67, Bresnan 55, Magoffin 3-57) beat Sussex 248 (Yardy 70, Brooks 3-55) and 208 (Bresnan 3-30) by 100 runs

Michael Yardy leaves the field for the final time in first-class cricket © Getty Images

Since this match was played during the university term, the large press box at Headingley, which is situated in a complex owned by Leeds Beckett University, was being used for lectures on the final day of this game.

Thus, while the mighty Yorkshire bowling attack sent Sussex's rather stunned cricketers down to the Second Division, students sat in serried rows with the blinds firmly down in the Kilner Auditorium and listened to no doubt worthy lectures on important subjects such as thermodynamics or computer science.

Quite right too, perhaps, but for the undergraduates, many of whom were keen cricket fans, it must have been frustration itself. Jack Brooks removed the top three in Sussex's order in one of the finer new-ball spells you will see and all they could hear were muffled cheers amid the theorems. "There's music in the names I used to know / And magic when I heard them long ago", wrote Thomas Moult in "The Names", a golden age poem written in the persona of a cricket-loving adult remembering his schooldays.

Certainly drama students might have learned something from watching the cricket on this last day of the season. Sussex began their innings needing to bat out 92 overs for the draw or score 309 runs to win. The achievement of either goal would have prolonged their five-year stay in the First Division, but they never looked like reaching either objective. Yorkshire's bowlers saw to that.

First it was Brooks, cruising in as smoothly as a sports car from the Kirkstall Lane. First he bowled a swinging full toss at the dreadfully out-of-form Ed Joyce and the Sussex skipper inside-edged it onto his stumps; then makeshift opener Chris Jordan was leg before on the back foot for 20; and in what was only Brooks's sixth over, Matt Machan chased a wideish ball and feathered a catch to Jonny Bairstow. Sussex were 39 for 3 in the 12th over and there was already a horrid gash below their waterline.

The crowd at Headingley enjoyed it all hugely, of course, but the students in their lecture theatre, whatever they were thinking, saw none of it. "Drone on, O teacher, you can't trouble me," Moult's poem continues. "If you choose to keep us here while cricket's in the air, / You must expect our minds to wander down the roads to Leicester, Lord's and Leeds ..."

And at Leeds this final morning, things got rapidly worse for Sussex as Tim Bresnan joined in the fun. He bowled Chris Nash through the gate for 17 and induced Luke Wright to drive most unwisely at a wider delivery of full length. Sussex were 63 for 5 at lunch and the writing was as clear upon the walls as the equations were on the flip-charts. When you only win one of your final 11 games, as Sussex have done, you are going to struggle; and when your seam bowlers - James Anyon, Ajmal Shahzad, Chris Jordan - are not fit for most or all of the season, while your batsmen are not in form, you are going to find it desperately hard.

Hampshire may have produced a great escape worthy of Steve McQueen on his motorbike but Sussex's relegation is hardly an enormous surprise.

There was some resistance, though, and it came from Michael Yardy, who was batting for the final time in his career, and Ben Brown, who passed a thousand runs for the season during his innings of 42. The pair added 79 in 20 overs that offered some hope that a defence worthy of mythology might be mounted. Their partnership stretched deep into the afternoon, by which time a party of schoolchildren had joined the crowd, a splash of purple amid the dark anoraks and fleeces.

Indeed, many spectators at Headingley probably had mixed feelings this final afternoon. They were watching their team achieve a record 11th Championship victory and win the First Division by 68 points, which is greater than the margin between runners-up Middlesex and bottom-placed Worcestershire. This is a great Yorkshire team and it must be a wonderful time to follow the White Rose.

At the same time there were many who might empathise with the phrase Gone With The Cricketers, the evocative title chosen by the John Arlott for one of his books. For it connotes not just a physical presence but a deeper commitment. "Where's John?" friends would ask Arlott's mother, only to receive the answer: "Oh, he's gone with the cricketers." And so he was, for much of the rest of his life.

And so they were at Headingley when they stood to applaud Yardy as he left first-class cricket after gloving an attempted hook to Alex Lees at first slip. There was no more touching sight than the Yorkshire team queueing up to shake the hand of the player they had just dismissed.

Yardy's dismissal by Bresnan for 41 was followed twelve balls later by that of Brown, the Sussex wicketkeeper clipping Adil Rashid straight to short leg, where Jack Leaning grabbed a brilliant catch. That left Sussex on 142 for 7 and, although the last three wickets took a shade under an hour to fall, there was now no doubt which way the river was flowing. Rashid helped himself to a couple more scalps and Adam Lyth, on his 28th birthday, had Ashar Zaidi leg before for 47.

At ten past three Chris Liddle was plumb enough to Rashid and the celebrations began on the outfield even as the dull realisation sunk in among the Sussex players. Dickie Bird presented the County Championship trophy to Andrew Gale, who has now received it three times in successive games. Mark Robinson, the Sussex coach, offered dignified congratulations to both Yorkshire and Hampshire; he refused to make elaborate excuses; he is a cricket man.

The supporters gathered on the outfield and watched their players begin the latest of what have already been many celebrations. And, as is often the case at this time of year, the spectators were slow to leave, reluctant, perhaps, to leave one home for another. Eventually they drifted away, though, and soon they must follow the different rhythms of autumn. But it will not be long before they are thinking of next April when there will be music in the names once again and we shall be gone with the cricketers.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 28, 2015, 8:39 GMT

    excellent as ever Paul - thanks for your unique insights into this game we all cherish - my personal highlight this season was your 4-day love affair with Arundel - i think you almost had to drag yourself away in the end...writing as it should be, but few accomplish

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2015, 16:55 GMT

    It's been such a pleasure reading your creative reports this season Paul, thanks. Stay well through the cold months.

  • JOHN on September 26, 2015, 13:56 GMT

    Thanks Paul great reading as a Yorke just like to say they are a great team will mlss your great reports your a top man

  • Paul on September 26, 2015, 10:19 GMT

    "The Names" is on page 82 of David Rayvern Allen's anthology of cricket verse "A Breathless Hush" (Methuen 2004, 2007) It's also in older anthologies edited by Gerald Brodribb and Leslie Frewin. All have some fine stuff in them, although to my slight annoyance I notice that I've slightly misquoted the Moult - I was writing from memory yesterday - although not to any extent that changes the meaning one jot. All the same it's back to the naughty step for me...

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2015, 9:48 GMT

    Thanks Paul. Lovely report as always.

  • Dave on September 26, 2015, 9:14 GMT

    I was determined to get to at least a couple of the days for the last match but due to unforeseen circumstances I didn't manage one, so I think your article did a lovely job of making up for it Paul. Thanks. As a [very!] lifelong fan of Yorkshire cricket (yes, I even saw the Don at Headingley, twice) it has been great joy to see them in action this season, and their sporting magnanimity toward their defeated opponents has been exemplary, along with their brilliant teamwork displays. Almost all have at some point produced outstanding 'superstar' displays as indivduals, yet just as cogs in the greater machine. Enormous credit is due to 'Dizzy' Gillespie who is in danger of topping his countryman, 'Boff' in the popularity stakes amongst Yorkshire fans, and of course the whole of the great Yorkshire backroom teams who support the entire edifice. Well done Yorkshire, and thanks for a terrific season - again!

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2015, 9:12 GMT

    I tried searching for that poem on the Internet. Didn't find it. Could anyone please give me a link to it? Or just paste in the comments below? My cricketing-soul is yearning for it!

  • j on September 26, 2015, 6:22 GMT

    Yorkshire are an example to other clubs around the country. They have somehow unearthed a spinner as well as a battery of medium pacers and some top quality batsmen. I do think the Country championship is scheduling helps them. Most the matches played early and late in the season when wiley old pros like Sidebottom and Brooks can swing it miles. That said, assuming they were not playing for England, if more matches were played in July and August I guess Plunkett/Rashid etc would still do the job for them.

  • Paul on September 26, 2015, 0:54 GMT

    I rarely contribute below the line. This is your space, not mine. Nonetheless at the end of the season I'd just like to thank everyone who has made time in their lives to read my stuff and say how much I have learned from your perceptive comments. That's it really. As last year, I'm just a writer and I enjoy travelling under the radar. But thanks so much and winter well.

  • Michael on September 25, 2015, 20:41 GMT

    I've come late to Paul's wonderful summaries, and, as a Hampshire supporter, am trying to suppress schadenfreude here. What a great article, like some of Alan Gibson's in The Times of long ago. I googled Thomas Moult's 'The Names', but couldn't find the whole poem. It sounds great, so I shall continue my search. Loved the phrase "reluctant, perhaps, to leave one home for another." I look forward to reading all your articles next summer.

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