Yardy steadies Sussex on rain-hit day

Sussex 119 for 1 (Yardy 64*) trail Lancashire 236 (Loye 58, du Plessis 54, Chapple 39, Martin-Jenkins 5-43) by 117 runs

The situation at Old Trafford on the third day of this match was rendered almost farcical at times owing to the constantly changing and often very wet weather. Squalls of rain, short and sharp, occurred throughout the day, which meant only four spells of play, totalling 28.2 overs, were possible, all after tea. The dominating figure of this time was the Sussex captain Michael Yardy, who led his team from the front with the bat, with the valuable assistance of Ed Joyce.

Who says county cricket is dying when more than 100 spectators attended a day like this to the bitter end, behaving with admirable patience? Intermittent bursts of rain prevented any play before 3.30pm, when the umpires and players finally braved the elements. Play lasted ten minutes, 17 balls were bowled and no runs were scored. At this point there was another outbreak of rain and they left the field, with Sussex still at 11 for no wicket.

At 3.55pm, they tried again. The fielders were just moving to their places when another flurry of rain caused them to turn tail and run. They had scarcely reached the pavilion when the rain passed and they suspiciously returned. This time 25 minutes' play were possible before the next interruption, and Sussex now showed they were after batting bonus points - all they realistically have to aim for now.

Joe Gatting turned the first ball on the resumption, from Sajid Mahmood, for two past square leg, while Yardy pulled a short ball from Kyle Hogg for a spectacular six. Mahmood tended to bowl too short, but possibly it was part of a cunning plan: he suddenly produced a wicked yorker that catapulted Gatting's middle and off stumps out of the ground. The Sussex debutant retired for 10. Not long after bad light and rain returned at 37 for 1.

The next mini-session began at 4.35pm and lasted exactly an hour. Glen Chapple, returned from injury, replaced Hogg and immediately launched into an impassioned lbw appeal against Yardy, but the ball had pitched just outside the line of leg stump. Yardy now settled in with Ed Joyce and the two of them chased runs busily, making hay while the sun shone - sometimes literally, but only briefly. Yardy, strongest on the leg side and through the covers, reached his 50 off 76 balls, while Joyce was finding his fluency just before the next burst of rain hit.

Once again the time out was only brief, and a final spell of 20 minutes was possible before play finally came to an end. Both sides will have only bonus points in mind on the final day - during whatever play the turbulent weather allows.

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