Yorkshire a ‘work in progress’ says Andrew Gale after Dom Bess inspires victory at Sussex
WHAT a terrific game of cricket. What a terrific advert for the County Championship. What a terrific comeback win for Yorkshire.
It was all terrific – even the weather, if you discount the winds that lashed the sunny south coast.
The only shame – as has been said numerous times at numerous games – was that there were no spectators present.
Instead, while Hove town centre was positively heaving, as shoppers took advantage of four days of unbroken blue skies, the cricket ground was still and deserted, save for Kipling’s “flanneled fools”.
For Yorkshire, bowled out for 150 on the opening day after winning the toss, a 48-run triumph represented a good recovery as they made it two wins from three in the fledgling Championship.
For Sussex, whose 71-run first innings lead gave rise to an identical hope, defeat was a bitter pill to swallow for a young and largely inexperienced team.
In the end, it all came down to who could hold their nerve after Sussex started day four needing another 99 runs and Yorkshire another four wickets.
Yorkshire stayed cool to complete victory after 70 minutes’ play, Dom Bess capturing the last wicket to finish with 6-53, the spring now firmly back in his step after he admitted that his experiences with England during the winter had left him “hating cricket” for a time.
Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire first team coach, who spent a nervous morning patrolling the boundary, living every ball, paid tribute to his men.
“It was a fantastic win from where we were on the first day,” he said.
“We know we didn’t do ourselves justice and can be better than that, but the character and resilence that we showed and the attitude towards the game from then on in, we did fantastically well.
“It just shows the character of the boys, so I’m really proud of them.”
Gale continued: “There’s areas we can improve, we know that, and we’re certainly playing nowhere near our best cricket.
“The first innings batting has not been great in two of the first three games, but we’ve got the personnel to make big first innings scores; we’ve just got to start putting them on the board because you can’t keep winning games in this fashion.
“Although we’ve shown immense character, when the (Championship) groups split, when the divisions split, and you’re playing against the best teams in the country, you’ve got to make big first innings runs. We know that, and it’s a work in progress.
“I guess you’re always searching for the perfect game, and we’ve not really come anywhere near to it yet, so although we’re proud of what we’ve achieved here, we’ll continue to work hard.”
After Bess had swung the match heavily in Yorkshire’s favour the previous night, reducing Sussex to 136-6 in pursuit of 235, it was no surprise to see him start proceedings at the Sea End, with Steve Patterson taking it on himself to charge down the hill from the Cromwell Road end.
Bess never gave the batsmen a moment’s peace, bowling a challenging length with just enough spin, while Patterson did what Patterson does – bowl wicket-to-wicket with unerring consistency.
Patterson it was who struck the first blow, Ollie Robinson, the former Yorkshire pace bowler, pinned lbw after Patterson had seemed unfortunate not to win an earlier shout against him.
After seven overs for 15 runs, Patterson then showed his value as a tactician, having the confidence to switch things up by taking Bess out of the attack for a quick breather and throwing the ball to Joe Root.
The England Test captain, who Gale confirmed will sit out this week’s match against Northamptonshire at Headingley before returning for the subsequent home game against Kent and possibly for the trip to Glamorgan the following week, struck with his third ball, having Jack Carson caught at slip by Adam Lyth.
At 180-8, with 55 still wanted, everything from a Sussex point of view depended on Ben Brown. The Sussex captain had advanced to the top score of 46 when Jordan Thompson knocked out his middle stump with no addition to the total, a wicket which Thompson greeted with a visceral roar that might have been heard back home in Yorkshire.
Moments later, it was all over, Henry Crocombe chipping Bess to mid-wicket, where David Wiilley took a high catch.
In the final analysis, the importance of Willey and Duanne Olivier’s last-wicket stand of 51 in the Yorkshire second innings could not be overstated.
In a low-scoring game, it proved absolutely vital.
And so Yorkshire can reflect on a solid if not yet spectacular start to the season, one in which Gale is correct to say that there is more to come from his team.
The worry for Yorkshire’s opponents, however, is that they have not yet hit top gear but have still won two matches.
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