IT was a fair while coming – 361 days and 20 first-class innings to be precise.
But Kane Williamson finally scored his first century for Yorkshire yesterday in his last home Championship appearance for the county.
Williamson, who leaves for the Twenty20 Champions League after the next Championship match away to Lancashire, made 189 from 320 balls with 22 fours.
Unbeaten on 90 going into day three, he helped Yorkshire to 493, a lead of 125, Sussex replying with 98-4 to trail by 27.
Williamson, whose previous best for Yorkshire was a pair of 97s against Durham, at Scarborough last summer and at Chester-le-Street this year, is too good a player not to have recorded a three-figure score for the club at some stage.
This was his 17th first-class hundred, including seven at Test level, and eclipsed his previous competition best of 149 for Gloucestershire against Leicestershire at Grace Road in 2011.
Williamson’s innings helped dig Yorkshire out of trouble after they had been 5-2 in reply to Sussex’s first-innings 368, and the home side will now hope to clinch a valuable win.
With second-placed Nottinghamshire in command against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road, and with a result possible in the game between third-placed Somerset and fourth-placed Warwickshire at Taunton, leaders Yorkshire would maintain their advantage if they can register a sixth Championship victory of the season here.
Should that happen, Yorkshire would owe a large debt of gratitude to Williamson, who batted for four minutes over eight hours in a brilliant exhibition.
“It was nice to get that first century and to contribute to a big first-innings total,” said Williamson, who revealed that he would like to come back to Yorkshire in the future.
“It’s nice to make a score when the team needed it, and then to come out and bowl like we did was really superb.
“I would love to come back to Yorkshire as I love playing here; the team plays good cricket and the culture is excellent.”
On a sunny morning beside the seaside, with a strong wind flapping at the pin-striped deckchairs in front of the festival marquee, Yorkshire resumed on 258-5, a deficit of 110.
The game was in the balance, but the home side approached their task with great positivity as they sought to craft an important lead.
Adil Rashid, who had yet to score, was quickly off the mark with a crisp cover-driven four off Steve Magoffin from the Peasholm Park end.
The leg-spinner followed up with a sumptuous square-driven boundary off Matthew Hobden in what looked a pre-determined effort to go for his shots.
Rashid had hit 28 out of a stand of 35 with Williamson in nine overs when he was first out, bowled playing around a delivery from Hobden.
Moments later, Williamson pulled Magoffin to the mid-wicket boundary to raise his hundred from 187 balls, a milestone applauded warmly by the 3,000 crowd.
Yorkshire lunched on 362-6 and could be well pleased with their efforts, having added 104 in 29.5 overs during the morning.
Williamson scored 39 of those and was grateful for another ally in Tim Bresnan, who had 32 to his name when the teams trooped off.
After the break, Williamson and Bresnan played with palpable comfort, rattling along at four runs an over.
Bresnan went to fifty from 102 balls with five boundaries, passing 4,000 first-class runs during the course of his innings, while Williamson went to 150 from 267 deliveries with 18 fours.
When Bresnan patted back a return catch to part-time leg-spinner Luke Wells, having scored 61 from 127 balls with six fours, the stand had realised 157 in 41 overs.
It was a Yorkshire seventh-wicket record against Sussex, beating the 137 between David Denton and George Hirst at Headingley in 1905.
Steve Patterson perished shortly after tea, lbw sweeping at Wells, who claimed his second return catch when Williamson danced down the pitch.
It was a slightly tame end to a classy performance, and Williamson looked naturally disappointed not to have converted his maiden Yorkshire hundred into what would have been a well-deserved double.
Yorkshire’s innings closed when Jack Brooks was caught at backward-point by Lewis Hatchett off James Tredwell, having shared a brisk last-wicket stand of 27 with Ryan Sidebottom.
Wells finished with Sussex’s best figures of 3-38, while there were two wickets apiece for Magoffin, Hobden and Tredwell.
Sussex were soon in distress in their second innings.
Wells was bowled for a duck aiming an expansive drive at Sidebottom, Brooks had Chris Nash caught behind from a delivery that left him – two balls after Alex Lees had dropped the same batsman at first slip – and Sidebottom pinned first innings centurion Ed Joyce lbw.
Sussex slipped to 48-4 when Bresnan had Craig Cachopa caught at second slip by Adam Lyth, but Luke Wright and Steffan Piolet averted further damage.
Wright scored a breezy 56 from 60 balls with nine boundaries, although Piolet looked fortunate to survive an lbw shout from Lyth just before the close.