Recent Match Report – Sussex vs Yorkshire 2023

Recent Match Report - Sussex vs Yorkshire 2023

Sussex 275 for 5 (Alsop 95, Carter 60*, Haines 48) vs Yorkshire

There is a mood of sporting optimism down on this part of the south coast. Granted, that might be in large part due to Brighton’s impressive season under Roberto de Zerbi – they currently sit seventh in the Premier League and play an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United at Wembley on Sunday – but there are already encouraging signs for those hoping that Paul Farbrace can oversee a long-awaited renaissance at Sussex.
A hard-fought win in the opening round against Durham was followed by a gritty display with the bat on day one of this encounter with Yorkshire. Tom Alsop’s 95 was the centrepiece, with Oli Carter following up his match-sealing turn in the fourth innings two weeks ago by recording an unbeaten first half-century of the season. Had Alsop not holed out to deep midwicket off the second ball after tea, with a fifth first-class hundred since joining Sussex last year ready to be ticked off, their position might have been even stronger.
Alsop is one of the players that Farbrace has identified as key to turning a promising but inexperienced squad into one that can challenge for promotion. At 27, he has been around the game for the best part of a decade but left Hampshire unfulfilled, his average just 25.88. For Sussex, that number swells to 42.56 and this year he will act as vice-captain in the LV= Insurance Championship, ready to step in when Cheteshwar Pujara is away on India duty.

Always a stylish-looking left-hander, Alsop appears to be developing the substance to go with it. He had a dose of luck early in his innings, inside-edging consecutive deliveries from Mickey Edwards past his stumps for four, but grew steadily more authoritative during the afternoon as his 94-run stand with Carter edged Sussex away from a potentially tricky position at 124 for 4.

His dismissal, hoicking at a half-tracker from George Hill – Yorkshire’s fifth seamer bowling his first over of the day – straight to Dom Bess in front of the pavilion, brought an understandable groan from the crowd. But with the always approachable Farbrace regularly doing his rounds, the mood at the 1st Central County Ground is currently one of positivity – and that was reflected back during another punchy half-century stand between Carter and Fynn Hudson-Prentice before rain and bad light brought about an early close.

Yorkshire’s disposition was less sunny as they skulked from the field, hands thrust deep into pockets. They arrived in Hove having suffered a complete washout on their trip to Bristol last week, and in the wake of a first defeat at Headingley by Leicestershire in more than 100 years. The club is attempting another rebuild after relegation in 2022 – not to mention the racism scandal that rumbled on right through pre-season – and here they included two debutants, in Pakistan batter Saud Shakeel and beanpole Aussie quick Edwards, who is eligible as a local due to a British passport.

There was also a first outing this term for Matt Fisher, capped by England in Tests 13 months ago but subsequently sidelined by a back stress injury. Fisher spoke while on England Lions duty over the winter of looking to bulk up, in order for his body to better withstand the rigours of a first-class career that has been limited to 27 appearances across eight years; he certainly hit the pitch hard running downhill from the Cromwell Road End but went unrewarded despite troubling both Alsop and Tom Haines.

Sussex’s decision to bat looked a sound one, on an oatmeal-coloured deck beneath pale blue skies, and the openers went off at a canter against some wayward early bowling. Fisher and Ben Coad pitched the ball up in search of swing but were left kicking the turf in frustration as Haines and Ali Orr rattled up 41 runs from the first seven overs of the morning.

Haines had an unsuccessful whoosh at Fisher first ball and looked a little uncertain to begin with, before settling into a series of crisp, front-foot punches. Orr, meanwhile, addressed the ball as if he meant business, bat raised high in his stance before launching Coad dismissively through long-off. But, having been unluckily run-out at the non-striker’s end in his first innings of the season against Durham, he somehow managed to be caught at slip off his thigh pad pulling at Jordan Thompson, as Yorkshire broke through after an opening stand worth 48.

The spin of Bess was introduced as early as the 17th over, and Yorkshire gradually found a measure of control. Bess was lofted for a brusque straight six by Haines in his second over but had his revenge in the next, winning an lbw decision from umpire Neil Pratt to make the score 83 for 2. Haines’ reaction, holding his bat in front of his face while turning away in frustration, suggested the opener was convinced of an inside edge.

The soothing presence of Pujara at the crease is another reason for optimism at Sussex, but he fell after adding a round 50 for the third wicket with Alsop – Thompson smuggling one past his inside edge for a dismissal that sent his first-class average for Sussex plummeting to a mere 97.07. Coad then sent Tom Clark’s off stump for a jaunt towards the Sea End, but in the end it was Yorkshire who were the more grateful when the bad weather swept in.

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