Yorkshire left the picturesque ground at Arundel with mixed feelings after bouncing back from a frustrating start to the opening day, only for Sussex to mount a late counter-attack.
Having won the toss on a good batting wicket, Sussex progressed easily to 104 for one at lunch, presenting Yorkshire’s resources with arguably the biggest test of their summer if they were to fight their way back into the match.
Already denied the services of Liam Plunkett on England duty, Adil Rashid on paternity leave and Ryan Sidebottom with a hamstring strain, it needed a major effort in the afternoon session – and their seamers provided it.
They claimed six wickets in the afternoon session and then reduced Sussex to 248 for nine, but some late hitting by Jon Lewis after a short break for bad light ensured they reached 300 for nine at the close of an absorbing first day.
From the start of play, it became apparent that Yorkshire would have to work hard for their wickets and it was not until Steve Patterson replaced Tim Bresnan from the Park End that they made their first breakthrough, his first ball tempting Chris Nash into driving loosely and edging behind.
It was the first of six catches for Jonny Bairstow, equaling his performance against Middlesex last summer and one short of matching the Yorkshire record for a wicketkeeper in an innings held by his father, David Bairstow, against Derbyshire at Scarborough in 1982.
By the time lunch had arrived, however, Sussex had overcome that setback to reach a commanding position and it needed a pep talk from captain Andrew Gale to inspire a stunning afternoon fightback.
“Andrew Gale reminded them to stick to our plan, be very disciplined with our line and lengths and the rewards will come and we saw in the second session that the rewards did come,” said first team coach Jason Gillespie.
Bresnan began a collapse of five wickets for 55 runs, all but one to catches behind, when he tempted Rory Hamilton-Brown into a loose drive only three overs after lunch.
Two further successes in the final session came at a cost with Lewis’ unbeaten 50 helping Sussex add 112 for their last two wickets and ensure the match was finely balanced at the close.