Kane Williamson reprieve could be key title moment for Yorkshire

 

It was at Scarborough last year that the Championship began to slip away from Yorkshire as Durham beat them by seven wickets, building the momentum that would carry them to the title. There is a chance their latest visit to the atmospheric North Marine Road ground may prove pivotal too.

The decisive moment could have come yesterday, which ended with Kane Williamson within 10 runs of his first century in 20 first-class innings for the county after being granted a reprieve when he was 16 and, in Sussex eyes, out caught by James Tredwell at second slip off the bowling of Lewis Hatchett.

Williamson instantly queried whether the ball had carried but appeared to accept the word of the fielder and set off for the pavilion.

By this time, however, umpires Peter Hartley and Graham Lloyd had decided to confer and Williamson's partner at the crease, who happened to be the Yorkshire captain, Andrew Gale, suggested he wait a moment, which turned out to be a wise move because neither official could be sure that the catch was clean and, to Sussex's obvious chagrin, invited the batsman to continue.

Had he gone, Yorkshire would have been 55 for three and by dint of that 57 for four when Gale was dismissed eight balls later, edging Steve Magoffin to wicketkeeper Ben Brown.

What followed was a partnership of 149 between Williamson and Jonny Bairstow, who continued in the form he displayed in 50-over cricket for England Lions last week by scoring 77 off 91 balls before, somewhat unluckily, he was given out leg-before to a ball from Matt Hobden that looked to be both high and missing leg stump.

Nonetheless, Yorkshire, having lost both openers for five, were considerably better off than they might have been after Sussex's 368 set them a stiff test.

This is a match they need to win, given that they have only a slender five-point advantage over Nottinghamshire, who recovered from 25 for four on Friday evening to take a solid first-innings lead against bottom-of-the-table Northamptonshire, thanks largely to Michael Lumb, who fell one short of a first Championship hundred of the season, half-centuries from Riki Wessels, Chris Read and Ajmal Shazad, whose eighth-wicket partnership with fellow bowler Luke Fletcher (49) added 114.

Third-placed Somerset had 20-year-old debutant Tom Abell to thank after his 95 kept them in the match against fourth-placed Warwickshire at Taunton, although they still trailed by 81 runs on first innings. Paul Horton made 114 and shared Lancashire's best opening partnership of the season with Luis Reece but Lancashire still trail Durham by 84 runs.

In Division Two, England's discarded left-arm spinner Monty Panesar took five for 50 for Essex.

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