Sussex captain Mike Yardy recorded his sixth score of 50 or more in County Championship cricket this summer as the visitors bossed the third day at Old Trafford, and the third successive day ruined by rain.
The Martlets advanced from 11-0 to 119-1 after 34 overs of their first innings, with only 28.2 overs being possible today as they replied to Lancashire’s 236 all out. Yardy will resume the fourth and final day, which is likely to be just a search for bonus points, on 64 not out off 110 balls.
Constant showers meant that play on the third day of this LV Division One fixture was only able to start at 3.30pm, the latest of the three days despite the forecast suggesting it would be the most settled of the lot.
Lancashire pace ace Sajid Mahmood ripped out Joe Gatting’s off and middle stumps, reducing the score to 27-1 in the 13th over, but Yardy ensured that Sussex comfortably advanced.
Mahmood, who finished the day with figures of 1-33 off ten overs on his return to action after four weeks out with a side strain, said that he and his fellow bowlers could have bowled better.
“We have had two sessions as a bowling unit, and maybe in that last session we could have been a little bit more disciplined,” he said. “Hopefully we can come back and take more wickets tomorrow.”
Francois du Plessis had described the pitch as a “good cricket wicket” at the end of the second day, saying there was something in it for both bowlers and batsmen.
But left-handed Yardy, who is closing in on 1,000 four-day runs for the season, made it look reasonably easy to bat on. The 28 year-old did not seem distracted by the stop-start nature of the day, there were a couple more brief showers later in the afternoon and early evening.
Mahmood admitted that it is not only batsmen who can have their rhythm disrupted by rain delays: “It can be quite hard to get back going again,” he continued. “But we should be used to it. Hopefully we can put it right tomorrow.”
Yardy had top edged a pull off Kyle Hogg for six early on, and reached his half-century off 76 balls, also including four fours, in the 26th over of the innings. Fellow left-hander Ed Joyce also made his way to 38 not out off 57 balls. He hit four boundaries.
Sussex, who added 108 runs today, 92 of them scored by Yardy and Joyce in their unbroken second wicket stand, still trail Lancashire by 117. 167 overs have already been lost over the three days of this match.
Mahmood’s return to action, alongside captain Glen Chapple, has certainly been a major plus for the Red Rose county.
And Mahmood’s own thoughts on his return would have been music to the ears of coach Peter Moores. He added: “You would like to come back to a sunny day, but that it pretty hard to get in Manchester. We have seen that over the last couple of weeks.
“I have done a lot of work with Sam and Al, the fitness trainer, and my side is feeling fantastic. I have been doing a lot of pre-bowling stretches. I have bowled ten overs out there, and the side feels fantastic. It’s always good to get wickets, and hopefully I can get a few more."
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd