Home side post first-innings 558 and lead Sussex by 201 heading into last day
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.
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.
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.
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.
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications