Sussex 386-5 v Yorkshire: Yardy finally finds his touch to give Sussex upper hand

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The Independent Online

A chastening day for Championship leaders Yorkshire took a worrying turn for the worse when skipper Anthony McGrath fainted in the field after tea here yesterday. The 31-year-old, captain in the absence of the injured Darren Gough, collapsed at mid-off suffering from mild heat-stroke and needed treatment for several minutes. He recovered in the dressing room and Yorkshire expect him to be on the field today.

For Sussex supporters, there has not been a more enjoyable day all season. Members queueing for their bacon rolls even burst into spontaneous applause when it was announced that Chris Adams had won a crucial toss and, fortified by Mike Yardy's first Championship hundred of the season, they made the most of it. Before long the greybeards in the deckchairs were buzzing with the news that Mushtaq Ahmed is poised to sign a new contract and then, with the lunchtime scoreboard showing 149 for 1, members crowded round the pavilion TV to enjoy Luke Wright's nerveless England debut.

As befits champions, Sussex have turned Hove into a fortress. They have not lost a Championship game here for three years although this season they have had to fight hard to preserve that proud record. The pitch is slow but when Ajmal Shahzad pinned Chris Nash with the new ball, there was a hint of uneven bounce too. It proved illusory. Yorkshire's seamers did not exploit early movement and although Adil Rashid spun the odd leg-break sharply, Yardy was soon into his stride.

It has been a difficult summer for the 26-year-old left-hander who missed the first half of it after his finger was shattered by Steve Harmison. Now one of his team-mates appears to have moved above him in England's one-day pecking order. Before yesterday his highest Championship score had been 54 but he timed the ball fluently and used his feet well to the spinners before gloving a ball from Rashid to short leg, having hit 17 fours in just over four hours.

His partnership of 178 for the second wicket with the more prosaic Richard Montgomerie, who passed 1,000 runs when he reached 56, set the platform.

Murray Goodwin and Adams batted stylishly and although Matthew Hoggard returned to get rid of Adams, Sussex are close to their first objective of maximum batting points.

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