Bess and Willey bowl Sussex to championship defeat at Headingley
Opener Ali Orr’s debut 67, supplemented by 52 from Aaron Thomason, looked set to give inexperienced Sussex a notable draw as they reached tea at 165 for four in their second innings, still 80 adrift.
But Bess and Willey underpinned a remarkable collapse as Yorkshire moved within four points of Group Three leaders Lancashire with their fourth win, this one by an innings and 30 runs.
Thomason opened the door with a loose drive at Bess and was caught at slip, and both Bess and Willey returned double wicket maidens as the visitors lost five for seven to fall from 180 for four to 187 for nine and then later 215 all out.
Captain Steve Patterson took the winning wicket when he bowled Ben Brown. Off-spinner Bess finished with four for 51 from 35 overs.
Yorkshire’s 23 points also moves them 12 clear of third-placed Northamptonshire with them and Lancashire their final two group opponents next month.
It looked like Orr and then Thomason would ensure parity on a slow pitch. Ultimately, a young Sussex side failed to hold on after Thomason’s departure.
Bess had Thomason and Dan Ibrahim caught at slip before Willey had Jack Carson caught at leg slip, Stuart Meaker caught at short leg and Henry Crocombe caught behind fending at a short one.
That left Sussex 187 for nine with almost 17 overs remaining, a tally whittled down by captain Brown and Jamie Atkins. The evening collapse was harsh after Sussex battled hard for most of this fixture.
Orr, 20, is one of nine first-class debutants for Sussex since the start of last season’s Bob Willis Trophy, including two this week. Ibrahim, 16, is the other.
During the morning, Bess broke a 60-run opening partnership between Orr and Tom Haines, who was acrobatically caught by Adam Lyth running around from slip. Three balls later, in the 35th over, Jordan Thompson had Stiaan van Zyl caught behind for nought as Sussex slipped to 61 for two.
Yorkshire’s next success did not come until the 70th over when Orr was bowled driving at Bess - 125 for three with almost 50 overs remaining. Ben Coad then had Travis Head caught behind just before tea, but even then there was no sign of the madness which followed.
Sussex now turn attentions to the Vitality Blast with their south group campaign starting at the end of the week.