Gatting tucks in with gusto to lift Sussex
Yorkshire 403 Sussex 233-4
Friday 18 September 2009
The First Division fate of these two teams is unlikely to be resolved until the final round of fixtures but for Sussex and Yorkshire there were glimpses of a brighter future in the performances of some of their emerging players yesterday.
Two 24-year-olds, David Wainwright and Ajmal Shahzad, completed Yorkshire's recovery from 104 for 5 and 209 for 7 with an eighth-wicket stand of 157 thus continuing a trend which has seen the visitors extricate themselves from similarly unpromising positions in nine of their 15 games so far.
A total of 403 was par for a desperately slow pitch at Hove but Sussex, whose need for a victory is greater than their higher-placed rivals in the table, made a positive response thanks to Joe Gatting in only his second Championship game.
There was something in the manner of his uncle Mike, the former England captain, in the way the 21-year-old took the game to Wainwright and Azeem Rafiq, the Yorkshire spinners who were bowling in tandem after 13 overs.
Using his feet and punishing any indiscretion in length, Gatting struck seven boundaries off Rafiq to force the off-spinner out of the attack on his way to 46 from 60 balls with 10 boundaries. In the context of this slow-scoring match it was refreshing to see. Gatting turned his back on a football career with Brighton & Hove Albion a year ago to concentrate on cricket and on this evidence he appears to have made the right decision.
Just as impressive were the performances of Wainwright and Shahzad. There cannot be too many better No 9s in England than Wainwright, who has already made two hundreds including one here last season which effectively kept Yorkshire in the First Division, even though he is by no means a regular in a side where the accent is still heavily on seamers.
Shahzad, playing with the patience lacking in some of his senior colleagues, was in sight of his maiden hundred and had batted for 200 minutes when he played back to Rory Hamilton-Brown's off breaks. Wainwright may be a slight figure but he struck any bad ball with impressive authority on his way to 85 from 146 balls with nine fours.
Their main job, though, is with the ball. Wainwright picked up Chris Nash off a sliced drive in his sixth over but it was Shahzad who revived Yorkshire when he found some reverse swing to strike with successive deliveries. First, Michael Yardy was undone by a ball which stopped after making 58, then Carl Hopkinson was trapped in front.
Yorkshire sensed an opportunity but Hamilton-Brown, given a belated opportunity in Sussex's Championship team after some impressive one-day performances this season, adopted a similarly fearless attitude to Gatting, driving impressively against the spinners. So far he has added 68 in 18 overs with the more prosaic Murray Goodwin proving an ideal foil at the other end.
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