Matthew Fisher and Ben Coad in Headingley masterclass as Yorkshire CCC shine
New-ball duo Fisher and Ben Coad helped Yorkshire make the most of only 42 overs of play possible on a day which included a pair of two-hour plus rain delays.
Fisher starred with 4-53 from 13 overs, while Coad took 2-10 from 12 as Sussex – third in Division Two with eight draws and a win – finished on 120-6, after surprisingly electing to bat first under a cloudy sky and on a green-tinged pitch.
“If you’d have said, ‘120-6’, I think we’d have probably taken it,” admitted Fisher.
“I went home really pleased with how I bowled last week (at Worcester, two wickets in the draw) but also a bit frustrated that I didn’t get what I felt like I deserved.
“I do think I’m fairly honest with myself. If I don’t bowl well, I’ll say so. But I felt like I really clicked last week.
“I bowled some really good balls and some really good overs today, but I didn’t feel in as good a rhythm as I did last week.
“But I still bowled two of the best overs I’ve ever bowled in my career today.
“One of them was the Ibrahim wicket over.
“That one was amazing. The other was the Alsop wicket. The reason for that was the plan we had to him. It was short, then in-swinger, short, in-swinger and then wobbled it across hoping that he’d play it because of the in-swingers before. He did and nicked it. It was exactly how we wanted to get him out.
“We would have bowled, but fair play to them. Farby (Paul Farbrace) used to coach here, so I wasn’t surprised they took the aggressive option.”
After electing to bat, Sussex captain Tom Alsop top-scored with 35, while 54 overs were not bowled.
One of Yorkshire’s major issues over the past season-and-a-half of four-day cricket – they were relegated from Division One last September – has been the lack of matches Coad and Fisher have played. With them fit and firing, the county look a completely different proposition.
Yorkshire have only won twice since the start of 2022, and this is only Coad’s 11th Championship appearance and just Fisher’s ninth in that time.
They have only played together on six occasions in that period but complement each other superbly.
While Coad is not blessed with the pace that Fisher has, he will find any ounce of help off the pitch or through the air to terrorise batters. And that’s exactly what they did.
Sussex slipped to 18-3 inside six overs, including two Fisher wickets with successive deliveries.
Coad made the initial breakthrough by getting Tom Clark caught at second slip by Adam Lyth.
Fisher then had the other left-handed opener Tom Haines caught behind by Jonny Tattersall before bowling James Coles, playing expansively at an in-ducker, first ball.
A two-and-a-quarter-hour rain delay, including lunch, then came from 11.55am before Coad and Fisher struck once more apiece prior to the rain returning at 3.20pm, resulting in a lengthy break.
Coad forced Oli Carter to inside-edge a drive onto his stumps before Danial Ibrahim feathered a forward defensive shot against Fisher behind as the score fell to 57-5 in the 25th over.
Alsop batted with a decent slice of fortune in his 96-ball 35, which ended when he edged Fisher shoulder high to Ryan Rickelton at third slip.
Sussex were at least boosted late in the day by Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Australian overseas seamer Nathan McAndrew, who shared an unbroken 44 for the seventh wicket.
Hudson-Prentice looked the most assured Sussex batter on show with 29 not out and McAndrew was strong on the pull and cut in hitting six fours in an unbeaten 25.
Sussex head coach Paul Farbrace said: “It was an interesting day from the point of the view that we were convinced it was the right thing to do to bat.
“We knew it would be tough to start with, and the first four wickets I’m not sure they were genuinely got out. They were four disappointing dismissals.
“I do think Yorkshire bowled really well. They bowled a lot of balls in the right place, but the top four will be disappointed with their dismissals I reckon.
“It was interesting at the end to see Hudson-Prentice and McAndrew play reasonably positively and make it look a little bit easier. It would have been nice to see us be a bit more proactive at the top of the order. But we’re an inexperienced side gaining experience with every innings that we play.
“We’re also up against a very good bowling attack.
“Yorkshire will say they’re in a good position. They will be happy with their day’s work.
“If we can get a score north of 200, we think we’ll have a decent score on the board on that pitch.”