Yorkshire v Notts: Seaside air leaves Gary Ballance in mood to play on
THERE is a fine line between wanting Yorkshire to do well but not wanting them to do so well that it cuts short a visit to Scarborough.
Such concerns must have crossed the minds of the Yorkshire crowd yesterday when the hosts were busy ripping through the Notts’ batting line-up with the ease of piranhas devouring their victims.
But after dismissing Notts for 94 on the stroke of lunch, after they had started day two on 38-2 in reply to their own first-innings 282, Yorkshire chose not to enforce the follow-on despite a lead of 188, thereby ensuring that the game could not be over inside two days, which had seemed eminently plausible.
As owners of local guest houses and hostelries no doubt turned cartwheels of joy, so too did those Yorkshire members who adore it at North Marine Road, with 84 per cent of them having voted in a recent survey conducted by the club to retain two Championship games there from next season.
With Yorkshire having to take one match away from Headingley or Scarborough due to changes to the fixture list, it can be taken as read that the decision will come down in the seaside town’s favour, but that is not to say that many of those Scarborough devotees were not a little baffled as to why Yorkshire – their bowlers fresh and their opponents fragile – opted to increase their lead in glorious sunshine.
It is the modern way, of course, not to enforce, and it is unlikely to make a jot of difference to the result, with Yorkshire set to close the gap to five points on leaders Middlesex with a win here, and Notts looking every inch like relegation material.
Yorkshire followed up with 200-4 in 61 overs in their second innings, Gary Ballance, the captain, scoring an unbeaten 75 to stretch the lead to a lofty 388.
Even with dodgy weather forecast today, Yorkshire’s fourth Championship victory of the season would seem as much of a formality as high and low tide.
Regardless of the question as to whether to enforce, that Yorkshire were even in a position to do so was tribute to a rousing recovery from 51-6 on day one.
Magnificent contributions from Andrew Hodd, Azeem Rafiq and Jack Brooks were mainly responsible for a revival completed by Yorkshire’s four-pronged pace attack of Brooks, Ryan Sidebottom, Tim Bresnan and Steve Patterson, who needed just 25.5 overs on the second morning to winkle out the last eight wickets.
The tone was set – as it so often is – by the venerable Sidebottom, who belied his 38 years with a splendid exhibition of swing bowling from the Peasholm Park end to take 3-5 in 12 balls and reduce Notts to 52-5.
Michael Lumb, the former Yorkshire batsman, was drawn forward and caught behind by one that shaped away; Steven Mullaney was lbw playing across the line; and Samit Patel was caught upper-cutting high to Bresnan at first slip.
Sidebottom would have had a fourth wicket with the score on 59 but Bresnan dropped a low chance at first slip, with Brendan Taylor not then off the mark.
But it was only a temporary setback for a Yorkshire side who made equally light work of the mid-to-lower order.
Chris Read miscued an attempted pull off Brooks to cover; Brett Hutton edged Brooks low to Adam Lyth at second slip; Taylor’s luck finally ran out when he played on an attempted drive off Patterson; Luke Wood flashed in foolhardy fashion at Bresnan and was caught behind, and an innings caked in collective embarrassment ended when Luke Fletcher helped Bresnan to Jack Leaning at third slip.
That Yorkshire would bat again was betrayed by the sight of openers Lyth and Alex Lees sprinting off the ground to strap on their pads, and they safely negotiated the one over that remained before lunch.
After the break, the cricket grew steadily soporific as the 5,000 crowd watched Yorkshire increase their lead in the way of builders systematically adding bricks to a house.
Lees added 30 bricks before he was lbw to Hutton, ending a first-wicket stand of 72, and Lyth followed shortly after for 41, caught and bowled by Wood off a leading edge.
Lehmann and Ballance added 61 in 22 overs before Lehmann slogged Samit Patel straight up in the air to Wood at mid-on.
Ballance, dropped on 20 when he pulled Fletcher to a diving Tom Moores at mid-wicket, advanced to a 113-ball half-century that included eight fours, and Leaning helped him add 57 before being stumped.
Play was halted seven overs early due to bad light with swooping seagulls ready to reclaim the outfield once the cricketers had left for the evening.