A fighting century from Sussex captain, Ed Joyce, frustrated LV=County Championship First Division leaders, Yorkshire, in front of a 4,624 crowd on the first day of the match at the Scarborough Cricket Festival.
Joyce fell to the last ball of the day for 130 from 240 deliveries with 15 fours, leaving Sussex on 315 for eight, and Yorkshire still have a lot of work to do if they are to extend their five-point lead at the top of the table.
On a bright morning with a brisk but cool wind, Yorkshire chased leather as Chris Nash and Luke Wells got Sussex off to a rapid start, with Nash the more dominant of the two.
He slammed Ryan Sidebottom’s third ball to the cover boundary and pulled consecutive fours off Jack Brooks, 30 runs coming from the first five overs before Tim Bresnan took over from Brooks.
It was Sidebottom, however, who hit back by taking two wickets in four balls to stem the tide, Nash edging a fast catch to Adam Lyth at second slip and Wells playing defensively only for the ball to bounce back on to his stumps.
Sussex were 44 for two and Yorkshire were beginning to sense that they had made the right decision in putting their opponents in to bat.
But Joyce always looked comfortable against an attack of inconsistent quality and Craig Cachopa overcame a hesitant start to raise the 50 stand with a boundary off Adil Rashid just before lunch to make it 99 for two.
The Sussex captain continued to trouble Yorkshire in the early afternoon, advancing his score with some fluent cover drives to reach 50 from 120 balls with six fours. But he too enjoyed an escape upon reaching 60, slicing Bresnan to third slip where Kane Williamson dived to his left and got his finger tips to the ball but could only divert its path to the boundary.
Williamson is playing in his last home match for Yorkshire. After the Roses encounter at Old Trafford in September, the Kiwi will join Northern Districts in the Champions League.
Cachopa cover drove Brooks for his seventh four to complete his half-century off 127 deliveries but three runs later he gave catching practice to the slip cordon and Lyth made no mistake to end their third wicket partnership of 124 in 44 overs.
Sussex were still well placed at 169 for three and Luke Wright was the livelier either side of tea in a 68 stand with Joyce, galloping to his 50 from 73 balls with seven fours. He reached the milestone by pulling Steven Patterson to the rope but then got an inside edge playing back and was bowled.
Partnered now by Steffan Piolet, Joyce advanced towards an unflustered century, his fifth of the season, and it arrived when he turned Rashid round the corner to run two. He had received 202 balls and hit 12 elegant boundaries.
The new ball was taken at 254 for four in 80 overs and Brooks evened up the contest by capturing two wickets in two overs from the Trafalgar Square end. Piolet was lbw to bring Brooks his 50th Championship wicket of the season and by way of celebration he had Ben Brown taken at third slip by Williamson pushing half forward.
Yorkshire skipper, Andrew Gale, brought back Rashid for the last over of the day and it proved to be an inspired move because it skidded through and trapped Joyce lbw.
Sussex director of cricket, Mark Robinson, said: “I am very happy with the way things went after we had been put in to bat and the great partnership between Ed Joyce and Craig Cachopa took the sting out of the attack and was the feature of the day. Ed is an outstanding player who has the capacity to go on. He doesn’t bat to his ego and today he was back to his best.
“I had a feeling that to bat first was the right thing to do because the pitch feels a bit crusty and it will be interesting to see if it takes spin later on. The ball has seamed about all day and we knew the importance of getting through the first session.”