The pressure is on Sussex on the final day of the county championship season Friday – if they survive at Headingley, they will survive in division one. If they lose, they will very likely be relegated.
In an an extraordinary final chapter of a long season in the four-day format, the men from Hove have it all to do because Hampshire - their only rivals for the last relegation spot - are set to win at Trent Bridge having turned the tables on Notts in amazing fashion.
Hampshire are chasing 200 to win and will begin day four on 89 for no loss - and that will mean Sussex have to draw or win in Yorkshire. Such an outcome looked out of the question on Wednesday as Hampshire were 80 for five in their first innings in reply to Notts’ 340. But ten wickets in the match from fidel Edwards have swung things the way of Sussex’s neighbours.
At Headingley, in-form Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale completed 1,000 championship runs as his side fought hard to build up a significant lead over Sussex on the penultimate day of the season.
Gale began his final innings of the summer requiring 61 to reach the milestone and he made 67 before he turned Chris Liddle round the corner to be caught by Chris Jordan.
That left Yorkshire on 217 for six and with an overall lead of only 220, the game was still very much in the balance, but late resistance from Tim Bresnan with an unbeaten half-century pushed them on to 298 for nine by the close.
Hampshire are chasing 200 to win and will begin day four on 89 for no loss - and that will mean Sussex have to draw or win in Yorkshire.
The incentive for Yorkshire to sign off with a win is that it would give them 11 victories, the most by any side since the championship was split into two divisions, while Sussex require at least a draw to stave off the threat of relegation.
Yorkshire started the day on 55 for one and Gary Ballance and Adam Lyth were both out in similar circumstances before heavy showers brought forward the lunch interval and caused 19 overs to be lost.
Ballance chopped Steve Magoffin into his stumps for 45 and after compiling a patient 39 Lyth did the same attempting to cut Lewis Hatchett, the first of the left-hander’s two boundaries only coming off the 103rd ball he received.
Gale and Jonny Bairstow batted confidently together in the afternoon and had added 67 in 19 overs for the fourth wicket when Bairstow was lbw for 36 as he fell over against Jordan, the England batsman ending his championship season with 1,108 runs at an average of 92.33 with five centuries and five half-centuries.
Gale went on to top 1,000 runs for the second time in his career before he lost Jack Leaning, well caught by Jordan at slip as he attempted to cut Liddle, and the captain fell to the same combination in the second over after tea.
Sussex took the new ball at 238 for six in 82 overs and the fourth ball from Magoffin nipped back to trap Adil Rashid lbw.
Liam Plunkett was caught at backward point cutting at Jordan to make it 255 or eight but Bresnan, in his best season with the bat, produced another important innings for his side. Jordan ended with three for 73.
Well supported by Jack Brooks, Bresnan completed 5,000 career runs in first-class cricket upon reaching 45 and his half-century arrived in the final over of an intriguing day. He had received 93 balls and hit seven fours.
The ninth-wicket pair put on 43 together before Brooks was caught behind by Ben Brown off the final ball of the day from Hatchett.
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