Outlook on weather is positive as Yorkshire toil away

Yorkshire's Liam Plunkett celebrates the wicket of Sussex's Rory Hamilton-Brown
Yorkshire's Liam Plunkett celebrates the wicket of Sussex's Rory Hamilton-Brown
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ONE of Yorkshire’s greatest frustrations last year was that they lost more time to bad weather than any other county – 138.25 hours.

Now, just two days into the new County Championship season, they could be forgiven for actively praying for rain, with Sussex having dominated to such an extent they might already have won but for two interruptions.

The loss of the final 19 overs on Wednesday, along with the last 34 yesterday due to rain and bad light, at least prevented the possibility of a two-day finish.

However, Yorkshire will need considerably more of the wet stuff to fall – and/or bat significantly better than they did in their first innings – to preserve an unbeaten record in Championship cricket that dates back 18 games to August 2011.

For those inclined to look on the bright side, there is potential comfort in a weather forecast that is the converse of promising for the final two days.

Further interruptions are expected and Yorkshire could theoretically emerge with their record intact.

To do so, they will need those last two days to go as well for them as the first two have gone badly, and to summon the fighting spirit on which their cricket is founded.

At 27-1 in their second innings, trailing by 233, they undoubtedly have a mountain to climb – although it is perhaps more of the Three Peaks variety than Kilimanjaro.

Jack Brooks, who took 4-76 on his Yorkshire Championship debut as Sussex scored 356 in reply to Yorkshire’s first innings 96, certainly believes the mountain is scaleable.

Although Brooks conceded Yorkshire face a tough fight simply to stop Sussex winning, he claimed it was not entirely out of the question that Yorkshire could win.

If that smacked of carrying optimism to the extreme, it was also indicative of the positive mentality in the Yorkshire dressing room.

Led by first team coach Jason Gillespie, cricket’s Mr Positive himself, there was no sense from Brooks that Yorkshire feel beaten.

“We can still win this game if we bat big,” said Brooks, who fought back well to take 4-15 in 15 balls after he had earlier disappeared at six runs an over.

“The boys are capable of it and there’s no talk of negatives in the changing room.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who are very positive, the coach is very positive, he instils that from the top and it filters down. We know that if we bat well we can bowl them out for less than 200, 150.”

Brooks, the 28-year-old pace bowler signed from Northamptonshire, confessed to mixed feelings about his own display.

He was delighted with four wickets – Sussex losing their last five in total for 38 runs – but less so with an economy rate of 5.84.

“I bowled too many four balls and we were probably a little bit off at times as a bowling unit,” he said.

“Maybe there was a little bit of excitement on my part, with it being my debut, but I stuck at it and made sure I stayed aggressive.

“I look to take at least three or four wickets every innings but it’s nowhere near my standards to go for that many runs.

“I’ll have a word with myself, but I know that when I start to get into a rhythm I’m not going to get hit around like that.”

Headingley was cloaked in a blanket of thick cloud when Sussex began the day on 104-3.

The temperature was bracing and four Yorkshire players - Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, Phil Jaques and Liam Plunkett wore woolly hats, although Plunkett discarded his after a couple of overs.

What Yorkshire failed to discard was a tendency to bowl too many four balls which had seen Sussex prosper on the Wednesday evening.

Another batch followed in the first hour yesterday as the visitors scored 51 runs without alarm.

Plunkett finally made the breakthrough when his second ball of the day pinned Rory Hamilton-Brown lbw.

The other wicket to fall before lunch was that of Joe Gatting, who skied a horrible hoick off Azeem Rafiq’s first delivery to Brooks at wide mid-off.

Ed Joyce and Ben Brown punished Yorkshire with a sixth-wicket stand of 120 in 24 overs, ended when Brooks had Joyce caught at second slip for 92.

Brooks’s next ball trapped Chris Jordan lbw and he went on to have Steve Magoffin caught low at first slip before bowling Brown for 93.

Having taken the first three wickets on Wednesday evening, Ryan Sidebottom - the pick of the attack - ended proceedings by having Monty Panesar lbw to finish with 4-72.

Alex Lees edged to first slip to leave Yorkshire 4-1 in their second innings but Lyth and Jaques lived to tackle the mountain again today.