Tom Alsop’s determined 95 repelled Yorkshire during a hard-fought opening day of the LV= Insurance County Championship clash at Hove today.
Left-handed Alsop was the star performer at the 1st Central County Ground, with his 152-ball innings from number three supported by a couple of useful contributions on a pitch showing signs of being two-paced as Sussex closed on 275-5 from 79 overs. Unbeaten wicketkeeper Oli Carter made 60 and opener Tom Haines 48.
Bad light and then rain ended play 17 overs early, and there was no play beyond 5.20pm.
Sussex won the toss and elected to bat, though their Indian captain Cheteshwar Pujara – the former Yorkshire overseas player – only went on to make 18.
He fell lbw to Jordan Thompson, who finished the day with 2-52 from 14 overs. Ben Coad (1-38 from 14), Dom Bess and George Hill also claimed a wicket apiece.
Yorkshire claimed two wickets in each of the first two sessions on a day when they handed debuts to Anglo-Australian seamer Mickey Edwards and Pakistan batter Saud Shakeel.
Sussex started better before Yorkshire had a much better second hour. The visitors then dominated the first hour of the afternoon, followed by a Sussex recovery.
Thompson had left-handed opener Ali Orr caught at third slip for 20 by Fin Bean after a top-edged pull ballooned up off the batter’s body – 48-1 in the 13th over.
Then, in the 21st, off-spinner Bess trapped the other opener Haines lbw for 48, the left-hander showing his displeasure at umpire Neil Pratt’s decision as he signalled with his bat and left the crease with his hands on his head.
Orr played one lovely drive back over Coad’s head for four in the early stages of the day before Haines lofted Bess for a straight six in the same region – both down to the Sea End of this ground.
But Yorkshire, for whom Matthew Fisher bowled 13 overs for 47 on his return from a broken hand, could have had more rewards for their efforts.
Three times in as many overs, Alsop and Haines inside-edged Edwards down to fine-leg for four, each whistling past the stumps.
Shortly after lunch, those rewards came. Thompson and Coad struck in back-to-back overs as the hosts fell to 124-4 in the 38th over.
The first of those was Pujara, who was trapped lbw by Thompson as he half-heartedly pushed forwards. Coad then uprooted the off-stump of Tom Clark for one.
However, left-handed Alsop and wicketkeeper Oli Carter shared an unbroken 94 for the fifth wicket through to tea.
Crouched in his stance at the crease, Alsop gained the majority of his 14 boundaries square and behind square on both sides of the wicket. He cut, pulled and worked – sometimes with authority and others with fortune.
However, he top-edged a pull at George Hill’s second ball of the day – in the first over of the evening – to Bess at deep mid-wicket as the score fell to 218-5 in the 65th over. By this time, the wall to wall Hove sunshine had been replaced by a grey sky and a particularly biting temperature.
Yorkshire will not claim to have been outstanding with the ball today, but there is no doubt that on another day – with a bit more luck here and there – they would have ended in a much healthier state.
The morning trio of inside-edges against Edwards is the obvious example of that.
Edwards can be encouraged by the start he made on his first-team debut, if a touch expensive in his final spell of the day as Sussex went beyond the 250-mark for a first batting point.
In his first spell this morning, he found an immediate rhythm and good length to challenge Sussex’s top order. He finished with 0-54 from 14 overs.
Sussex ended the day with Carter and Fynn Hudson-Prentice consolidating their side’s position through an unbroken sixth-wicket partnership of 57.
Within that, Carter reached his fifty off 105 balls, and Hudson-Prentice will begin day two unbeaten on 32.