Kirtley proves able stand-in

Sussex 495 Yorkshire 195-6

Sussex marched nearer an innings victory that may prove to be vital come September. With 10 matches remaining for the current champions, the likely counties to be relegated are three of Sussex, Hampshire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire, so that fixtures between them are double-edged, denying points to the opposition as crucial as winning them.

This match also looks like being a triumph for one of the two acting captains, James Kirtley, deputising for the injured Chris Adams. He may have lost the toss to Darren Lehmann's deputy, Richard Blakey, but being sent in meant Sussex gained first use of a pitch that by last evening was deteriorating.

Once Kirtley's batsmen had won control on the first afternoon, he was able to tighten Sussex's grip on the game to such an extent that the only question seems to be at what time will Sussex win today? Yorkshire finished still needing 91 to avoid a follow-on.

Yorkshire started smartly enough, taking three of Sussex's remaining four wickets for 23 runs in 10 overs, Ryan Sidebottom again suggesting he is a first-thing bowler, brighter by dawn's early light. Sussex's last pair then added another 37 runs to steal maximum batting points, further illuminating Yorkshire's lack of variation.

Craig White had just opened his armoury, a cracking four through extra cover off Robin Martin-Jenkins, when he played down a delivery from Kirtley and saw the ball trickle on to his stumps. Michael Lumb's obvious promise seemed to have become frozen, bang in front for the next ball.

Matthew Wood was dropped behind but bowled two balls later and the innings bore an all too familiar look of smoking ruin at 36 for 3, three wickets having gone in seven balls. Simon Katich had settled but was not attuned to the pitch, Vic Craven met a sharper bounce and the innings of the day went to Anthony McGrath who, with his captain, added 72 in 27 overs and looked capable of many more when, well forward, he was given out leg before, a disappointing end to a fine innings.

That left, as it were, the noble captain on the burning deck with a nervous first mate, Gavin Hamilton. After 172 overs Sussex actually bowled a spinner Mark Davis but only for a token two overs. Playing too many boring seamers ought to be considered a breach of the first-class regulations.

* The Championship leaders, Leicestershire, face an uphill battle to match Warwickshire's big first-innings score after Jamie Troughton's century at Edgbaston. The visitors finally bowled out Warwickshire for 462, paced by Troughton's magnificent 130, and closed day two on 205 for 4.

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