All Wright on the night for Sussex
Luke Wright compiled a marvellous 95-ball 103 to ensure Sussex maintained their winning start to the Clydesdale Bank 40 with a four-wicket triumph over Yorkshire at the PROBIZ County Ground.
The visitors posted a total of 238 for nine on a pitch offering appreciable pace and bounce, but endured a torrid time in the field as runs flowed freely.
Fresh from hitting 59 against Northamptonshire in his first outing of the summer on Sunday, Wright took centre stage with a fine innings that featured 10 fours and two sixes.
The majority of the 27-year-old’s early runs were accumulated through brute force, yet he also showed great maturity by reining in his attacking instincts to guide Sussex to within four of their target. His eventual run out counted for little as victory was sealed with 37 deliveries unused.
Chris Nash, who had earlier returned 2-34 with the ball, and Joe Gatting also prospered to the tune of 44 apiece, and a miserable evening for Yorkshire was compounded by an injury to Andrew Gale. The White Rose captain was struck on the grill by a fierce bouncer from Amjad Khan and, although he went on to make 42, was later taken to hospital.
Phil Jaques deputised as skipper for Sussex’s innings, which started with a flurry of boundaries off left-armers Mitchell Starc and Ryan Sidebottom, who returned combined figures of 1-117 from 13 overs.
The former conceded 21 in his first over, which contained a no-ball and a wide, and then overstepped again when bowling Nash, with the ball ricocheting off the stumps and over wicketkeeper Gerard Brophy’s head for another four.
Sidebottom had Ed Joyce caught at cover for a duck, but soon came in for similar punishment to his new-ball partner.
A change of ends initially brought a change of fortune for Starc, who deflected a Wright straight-drive onto the stumps with his boot to run out Nash at the non-striker’s end.
Murray Goodwin was well caught at slip by Gary Ballance off Moin Ashraf for one to leave the hosts on 87 for three, but Wright and Gatting prospered thereafter in a stand of 90.
The clean-hitting Wright reached his half-century with another four off the returning Starc, who had earlier been deposited over the ropes at backward point.
Gatting, meanwhile, collected two sixes of his own off Azeem Rafiq before holing out to the leg-side boundary when looking to repeat the trick off Joe Root, who also had Matt Machan caught at midwicket for 15.
Wright lofted Rafiq over long-off for his second maximum and brought up his hundred with a flat-batted four down the ground off the ailing Starc before being dismissed following a mix-up with Ben Brown.
All of Yorkshire’s top six got in, but no-one was able to better Root’s inventive 46, which came off just 36 deliveries.
Adam Lyth’s 19-ball 27 ended when he clipped Nash to Joyce at mid-off, having survived a chance to the same fielder two deliveries earlier.
After recovering from his early blow to the face, Gale - who took 16 balls to get off the mark - settled into his stride, only to be bowled when aiming a big heave across the line at a flighted delivery from Nash.
Jaques and Ballance, who made 37 and 40 respectively, each looked in good touch, and the latter enjoyed particular success against leg-spinner Will Beer.
However, after Jaques had chipped Monty Panesar to midwicket to fall in tame fashion, it was Beer who claimed Ballance’s wicket when Joyce held on to a steepling chance running back from mid-on.
Root excelled with a number of eye-catching strokes, including a clever reverse-sweep over third man off Amjad that brought up a fifty stand with Anthony McGrath from 39 deliveries.
The batting powerplay yielded 43 runs as Sussex struggled to keep things in check, but Yorkshire then lost five for 11 in 17 deliveries.
McGrath skied a catch to wicketkeeper Brown off Chris Liddle and a pre-meditated sweep from Root picked out Panesar at deep fine-leg to give Amjad his first wicket.
Amjad also accounted for Rafiq and Sidebottom, either side of Liddle bowling Brophy, to finish with 3-51.