When Andrew Gale told anyone who asked during the winter that promoted Yorkshire would find life somewhat tougher in the First Division of the County Championship, he wasn’t kidding. Bowled out for 96 on the opening day at Headingley, Yorkshire were on the wrong end of such a pummelling from two Sussex batsmen in particular that a rainy end to the week already looks the only way in which they will avoid beginning their 150th anniversary season with a resounding defeat.
There were four wickets each for Ryan Sidebottom and Jack Brooks, the latter on his Yorkshire debut, but they were of only minor consolation next to a first-innings deficit of 260. The damage was done mainly by a partnership of 120 in 23.4 overs between Ed Joyce and Ben Brown.
Yorkshire might reflect that they were just too tentative, too set on treating the opposition and the occasion with respect. Where they had spent much of their first innings looking primarily to defend, to no benefit as Chris Jordan ran through them, Sussex were positive from the outset, building on a lead achieved in less than two hours on Wednesday by adding 132 in the morning session for the loss of Rory Hamilton-Brown and Joe Gatting before Brown began his assault.
The 24-year-old wicketkeeper, who took a century off Yorkshire’s bowlers at Scarborough two years ago, made his first 50 runs off only 66 balls before stepping up the tempo still further as Azeem Rafiq’s off-spin was ruthlessly taken apart.
Eight of Brown’s 14 boundaries came off Rafiq, currently preferred to Adil Rashid in Gale’s line-up, and he looked poised for another hundred after reaching 93 from 94 balls when he went for a drive against Brooks and was bowled. The former Northamptonshire pace bowler, who had struggled against Chris Nash on Wednesday, had also denied Joyce a hundred when the Irishman edged to second slip, pushing forward.
Hamilton-Brown had shaped up as if he might mark his second beginning as a Sussex batsman with an innings of substance as well as style until he missed a ball from Liam Plunkett, the other bowler making his Yorkshire debut.
Brooks, who dismissed Jordan first ball, was somewhat flattered by his figures, Sidebottom less so after leading the Yorkshire attack with little luck at times. Yorkshire lost Alex Lees before the weather closed in and may do well to prolong the match into tomorrow if dry conditions prevail.