There were no pin-striped deckchairs at the Cromwell Road end, which would have been lined with spectators on a glorious, if bitterly cold day of unbroken blue skies.
There was no second-hand book stall for those spectators to have browsed during the lunch and tea breaks, as they snapped up bargains while sharing the latest gossip, while even the scavenging seagulls seemed fewer than usual, with no fans in the ground to leave appetising morsels.
On the plus side, there were no daddy long-legs either after an infestation had forced Sussex to move their previous game here against Lancashire to Old Trafford. Every cloud has a silver lining, as the old saying goes, not that there were any clouds visible beneath the bright April sun.
As the English Channel shimmered in the distance, with the silver seas rough and the brisk wind raw, Yorkshire were not their habitual selves either, enduring a difficult day on their first visit to Hove since 2015, when Jason Gillespie was their head coach before swapping Headingley for Sussex by the Sea.
After winning the toss on a good batting pitch, Yorkshire were dismissed for 150, Adam Lyth top-scoring with 42 and Joe Root dismissed for five, before Sussex closed on 118-3, Yorkshire first team coach Andrew Gale admitting that “we gave our wickets away and it was a poor day.”
That being so, it was perhaps no bad thing that there were no Yorkshire fans here – just residents watching from the balconies of nearby flats, which rise up along the Cromwell Road behind the bowler’s arm and also along Palmeira Avenue behind the electronic scoreboard.
There was, however, one interested Yorkshireman observing in the stands. Two days after it was announced that he is to gain full control of selection as England’s head coach, following Ed Smith’s ousting as national selector, Chris Silverwood was present along with James Taylor, whose role is to change from England selector to that of head scout.
It was a chance, therefore, for the likes of Lyth and Ollie Robinson, the highly-rated former Yorkshire pace bowler now of this parish, to build on their fine starts to the season and to give a forceful nudge to the England hierarchy.
On the one hand, Lyth did so when giving Yorkshire a good start during an innings that spanned 58 balls and contained eight fours; on the other, he rather gifted his wicket by clipping George Garton to mid-wicket after the visitors tumbled from a promising 60-0.
In fact, it was Garton, the 24-year-old left-arm pace bowler who has represented England Lions, who perhaps left the greatest impression on Silverwood and Taylor.
Operating from the Cromwell Road end, where he made good use of a breeze that assisted the inswinger, Garton followed his dismissal of Lyth by bowling Tom Kohler-Cadmore with a ball that flattened two stumps and then got the prized scalp of Root, lbw as he tried to work a full ball to leg.
When Gary Ballance edged Sean Hunt, another left-arm pace bowler, to second slip to end his first competitive innings since September 2019, and Harry Brook was bowled playing back to left-arm spinner Delray Rawlins from one that turned sharply, Yorkshire were teetering on 102-5 heading into lunch.
A second collapse ensued from 126-5 as Dom Bess was caught behind trying to cut Rawlins; Jonny Tattersall caught behind throwing the bat at a wide ball from Hunt; Jordan Thompson lbw to off-spinner Jack Carson; and Steve Patterson caught behind aiming a back-foot forcing shot off Robinson, who then had David Willey caught-and-bowled trying to work to leg.
All in all, it was a bit of pig’s ear performance as Gale candidly conceded. “It was poor with the calibre of players we’ve got in that line-up,” he said.
“We haven’t done ourselves justice – that’s an understatement. We’ve got to win three sessions on day two, simple as that.”
On a day when Jofra Archer could be seen doing shuttle runs beside the boundary, as the Sussex and England fast bowler continued his recovery from elbow and finger injuries, Yorkshire had to strike early and often with the ball.
The score had reached 60 when Sussex – just as Yorkshire – lost their first wicket, Thompson finding the outside edge of Aaron Thomason’s bat and Brook doing the rest at third slip.
Olivier landed two late blows when Stiaan van Zyl was caught at first slip and nightwatchman Henry Crocombe caught behind, Tom Haines (71) batting through to stumps when, in normal times, spectators would have been easing out of the pin-striped deckchairs and filing away into the early Brighton evening.
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