Yorkshire take humbling fall on opening day

Ryan Sidebottom celebrates getting the wicket of Sussex Luke WellsRyan Sidebottom celebrates getting the wicket of Sussex Luke Wells
Ryan Sidebottom celebrates getting the wicket of Sussex Luke Wells
WHEN Yorkshire were dreaming of the perfect way to start their 150th anniversary year it is fair to say that failing to score even as many runs in the first innings of their opening County Championship match was not on the list of ideal beginnings.

A total of 96 all-out was their lowest in first-class cricket since Nottinghamshire dismissed them for 86 here two years ago, a performance that set the tone for a summer that ended in relegation.

Although it would be premature to draw too many conclusions from yesterday’s collapse, it was clearly not the start to the season Yorkshire were looking for, a season in which they have made no secret of their belief they have all the ingredients to win the title.

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This was their lowest first-class score against Sussex at Leeds – supplanting the 111 they mustered in the corresponding fixture in 1893 – and came hot on the heels of an unconvincing first innings display against Leeds Bradford MCCU, when they were 10-4 and 65-7.

Only three players yesterday reached double figures – Jonny Bairstow (29), Azeem Rafiq (23) and Gary Ballance (13).

Sussex bowled well in conditions that rewarded quality bowling, but Yorkshire also contributed to their own downfall.

Chris Jordan, the 24-year-old pace bowler signed from Surrey during the winter, led the way with 6-48, while fellow pace men Steve Magoffin and James Anyon chipped in with two wickets apiece.

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After Yorkshire were routed in less than three-and-a-half hours, Sussex proceeded to 104-3 before bad light ended play with 19 overs remaining, leaving Yorkshire the proverbial mountain to climb.

“I thought we were a little bit soft with the bat at times,” admitted Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale.

“There was a bit of moisture in the wicket, but I didn’t think it was a 96 all-out wicket, and I would have expected us to battle through that and put on a decent total and for a couple of the guys to stand up.

“I’m not really concerned about our batting at this stage; the lads have just got to knuckle down and find a way of making runs.

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“It’s bitterly disappointing to be where we are at the end of day one, but it was only the first day of the Championship season and there’s a hell of a lot of cricket to be played, while there’s no reason – even if Sussex get an 80-100 run lead – why we can’t bat ourselves back into the game.”

On a sunny and surprisingly clement morning, given the seemingly relentless Arctic weather, Gale lost the toss with the 19th-century coin with which he was presented at Yorkshire’s annual meeting to mark the 150th anniversary.

It was certainly a good toss for opposite number Ed Joyce to win, with conditions affording the bowlers just enough movement.

Magoffin and Anyon made the most of that assistance, the latter landing the first blow when he induced Adam Lyth to chop into his stumps.

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Phil Jaques – back for Joe Sayers in the only change to the side that took on the students – was next to fall, lbw to a full one from Magoffin that left Yorkshire 9-2.

After Jordan replaced Magoffin at the Kirkstall Lane end, Gale’s search for a morale-boosting innings was not sated when he was caught down the leg-side off Jordan’s second delivery.

When Championship debutant Alex Lees chased a wide one and was also caught behind, having battled to score six runs in 79 minutes, Yorkshire were 18-4 in the 20th over.

Bairstow broke the stranglehold with successive boundaries off Jordan before profiting from a fielding lapse that gave him five runs from a push to mid-on, Bairstow scampering a single as Luke Wells obligingly hurled four overthrows.

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In company with Ballance, the wicketkeeper lifted Yorkshire into lunch on 40-4 from 30 overs only to fall with the score on 58, caught behind off Anyon trying to pull.

Ballance got arguably the ball of the day when Jordan shaped one away that took the edge before having Liam Plunkett caught and bowled off his pad.

Jordan’s fifth and sixth wickets followed when he bowled Ryan Sidebottom and Jack Brooks and then held Rafiq at first slip off Magoffin to end the innings.

Sidebottom, bowling with customary skill from the Rugby Stand end, struck early in Sussex’s reply when he trapped Wells lbw.

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But Chris Nash and Michael Yardy lifted the score to 87 before Sidebottom had Yardy caught behind.

Nash blazed his way to 80 from 87 deliveries with 13 fours before he was third out with the total on 104, caught behind off Sidebottom. There was time for only eight more balls before umpires Nigel Llong and Tim Robinson decided the light was unplayable.