Sussex 313 and 38 for 0 (Orr 23*, Haines 12*) trail Yorkshire 558 (Malan 199, Ballance 77, Duke 54, Atkins 5-98) by 201 runs
To understand why most of the spectators at Headingley enjoyed today's cricket in all its gourmet and gourmandising glory you probably need to have paid close attention to Yorkshire's batting performances this season. They have often been bloody awful. Before this match Steve Patterson's side had been bowled out for 230 or fewer in five of their seven first innings and the skipper acknowledged that last week's defeat had been on its way for a while. The fact that it was inflicted by Lancashire merely gave the gladius an extra twist. A side rarely prospers if the average score at which its third wicket falls is 85. Watching roobish like that on the live stream may have prompted a few domestic traumas.
Now it is three o'clock on this warm Saturday in early June. It is an afternoon out of J L Carr, an afternoon of long moments and great stillness, an afternoon for which to be newly grateful. And Yorkshire are 465 for 6. This is abundance without recent precedent. Having taken nine batting bonus points from their previous seven games - the lowest in the land - the home side have collected a maximum five from this innings. Their effort has been held together by Dawid Malan, who has filled his boots, wellies and slippers with runs. Ten of his 22 fours have been cut or worked backward of square on the off side.
Not since Harry Lime had his clogs popped by Holly Martins in a Vienna sewer has the absence of a third man been so noticeable. The only severe disappointment of the day was suffered ten minutes ago: Malan was bowled by Jack Carson for 199 when his attempted angled deflection merely allowed a fine ball, bowled from over the wicket, to turn past the blade and hit the left-hander's off stump. He needed that single to become the first batsman to score double hundreds in consecutive innings for Yorkshire.
Malan's innings was a triumph of technique, a near-perfect example of a batsman with discriminating knowledge of his particular game and in perfect command of its wristy cuts and gentle glides. Few people this dream-laden hour will recall that he was dropped on only 27 yesterday afternoon when Travis Head spilled a slip catch off Henry Crocombe.
Carson deserved his wicket, though. Four overs before his dismissal, Malan had produced his most atypical shot against the spinner, a gorgeous extra-cover drive for six, but the Ulsterman was the pick of Ben Brown's attack throughout the innings. Very few young spinners have his ability to adjust their length when they see a batsman advancing down the pitch and there have been times in this innings when Carson has been the only bowler Brown could trust to throttle the run rate. His extra bounce accounted for Gary Ballance, who was caught behind for 77 in the fourth over of the day. Malan received a standing ovation, of course. It was the loudest applause heard here since 12.08, when news reached Leeds, probably at lightning speed, that Lancashire had lost at Cardiff. That was more like it.
For yes, there is certainly evidence that folk in these parts are getting worried. At the junction of North Lane and Bennett Road, just a couple of good hits from the cricket ground, the simple graffito "Gooch!" is daubed on a white wall. It is not known whether the exclamation mark was added after Yorkshire's defeat in last week's Roses Match; whether, in other words, a polite suggestion had turned into a frantic demand that Martyn Moxon signs a 67-year-old former England opener who last played a County Championship match in 1997. But then losing to that lot across the way can do alarming things to people round this way; they fear a run on their building societies.
Malan calmed such worries and Harry Duke's accomplished fifty reinforced his reputation as a fine player. Yorkshire were bowled out for 558 seven overs after tea; it is their highest score since 2016. Having had Harry Brook strangled for 49 in the morning, Jamie Atkins picked up three quick wickets and finished with 5 for 98, the first five-wicket haul of his three-match career. They are nice figures if you can get 'em. Carson caught and bowled Patterson, who was probably disoriented by having to bat when the scoreboard didn't read something like130 for 7.
Rather suddenly, though, there was fresh tension in our cricket as Tom Haines and Ali Orr began Sussex's task of batting most of eight hours to secure the draw. Yet to the surprise of many at Headingley and to the disappointment of even more, the openers batted so coolly for 23 overs that a wicket did not look like falling. Patterson used his five main bowlers but Orr played as diligently as he had when facing the new ball on Thursday morning. This is his first-class debut and he looks a proper batsman.
Haines, of course, is in the season of his life but only because he has grafted fresh responsibility onto the rich talent that gave him a century against Durham at Arundel just three summers and many years ago. Between them the openers seemed to tranquilise the home attack. And though there is still so much to do to deny Yorkshire the win they need, we should recall that seven of this Sussex team are 23 years old or under. They will be learning so much, even from four hard days such as these. This is a glad season for them, too. For us all, mayhap, for us all.