Positive approach required if Yorkshire are to force victory

ON a pitch that seems to be getting slower with each passing hour and has been offering only marginally more help to the bowlers than it has their batting brethren, forcing a victory today is not going to be an easy task for Yorkshire.

Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow
Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow

That, though, won’t stop Andrew Gale’s men from trying on a final day that they will begin 133 runs ahead with Sussex having 10 second innings wickets remaining.

Doing so will be tough, not least because of a track that is so lacking in life that any attempt to quicken the pace of an innings has invariably brought dire consequences courtesy of a mis-timed shot.

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But if the White Rose attack can get among the wickets early this morning then the sizeable contingent of Yorkshire cricket fans who have been in Arundel for the last few days may yet get the ultimate reward for their patience and support.

“Our attitude is to always try and win,” said Bairstow, who in finishing unbeaten on 161 passed three figures for the first time in a Yorkshire shirt for more than a year.

“That is a given for this side. We don’t want to get to the end of the season and be left thinking, ‘If only we hadn’t settled for a draw in that game and missed out on points’.

“I would, personally, rather try to chase something and get down to seven down before trying to save a game than settle for a draw and just be one wicket down at the end.

“That is the cricket we want to play and shows the positive mindset that we possess.”

Bairstow’s magnificent display, which followed his six catches in Sussex’s first innings, is why Yorkshire can still harbour hopes of forcing a win that would put the county clear at the top of Division One.

The 24-year-old showed wonderful maturity in a near seven-hour stint at the crease that had begun shortly after tea on the second day.

By the time it ended at 5.52pm yesterday courtesy of Gale’s decision to declare, Bairstow had faced 290 deliveries, hit eight boundaries and three towering sixes.

The first of those lusty shots had come just one ball after he had reached his half century in the morning and was one of several attempts by Bairstow to up the tempo of Yorkshire’s first innings.

On each occasion, however, he was left frustrated by a pitch that, for much of the day, seemed to be not so much asleep as comatose.

A neat line and length has made scoring difficult throughout, as Steve Magoffin vividly illustrated on Tuesday when he returned remarkable figures of two wickets for 22 runs from 23 overs.

The Australian wasn’t quite so economical yesterday. But his nagging accuracy on a wicket that offers little help in terms of taking wickets still made him difficult to get off the square.

James Tredwell, too, was also able to spend most of the day applying scoreboard pressure when bowling from the Castle End.

It was ironic, therefore, that one of his looser deliveries accounted for Jack Leaning just one run short of what would have been a deserved maiden first class century.

A 25-minute hold-up to play following a short cloudburst in the morning preceded the dismissal. And there were a few White Rose eyes in a crowd of 2,000 that looked suspiciously less than dry when the York-born batsman’s innings came to a heart-breaking end.

Leaning, sensing this was his big moment as the ball looped towards him, duly stepped forward and hit a thunderous shot on the full back in the bowler’s direction.

What happened next was almost in slow motion, as the one-time England international instinctively stuck out a hand and the ball stuck.

As Sussex celebrated a potentially major breakthrough, Leaning was understandably distraught. He barely moved for 30 seconds, instead staring forlornly back down the wicket.

Eventually, the 20-year-old began trudging dejectedly towards the boundary edge and the gazebo that contained his equally crest-fallen team-mates.

Leaning, unable to look up, continued past the gazebo and into the nearby pavilion. Andrew Gale followed a moment or two later, the Yorkshire captain no doubt offering words of consolation and encouragement in equal measure.

As well he might, with Leaning having batted beautifully in testing conditions.

Bairstow and Tim Bresnan then took up the mantle to add 138 in 53 overs before Magoffin beat the latter’s defence with a wonderful inswinger.

The big hope from a Yorkshire perspective had been Aaron Finch being able to buck the trend of finding runs hard to come by.

But he lasted just 12 minutes in the morning before being trapped in front of his stumps by the excellent Magoffin.

With the big-hitting Australian back in the pavilion, it was left to Bairstow to lead Yorkshire into a position where victory is at least possible if not probable after Sussex survived the final 10 overs unscathed.