Lancashire put up an impressive fight
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter
DateLine: 5th July 2010
Yorkshire fell back on their old failing in first-class matches in recent years: that of starting a job well but failing to finish it off. They allowed Lancashire off the hook in their first innings, their last two wickets adding 123 runs, and this lapse may well have cost them the match. They still finished the third day in a position of strength, at 111 for three in their second innings, but will have to do a great deal on the final day to force a victory. It will be a test of their will, as well as their talent, to win the championship again this season.
Lancashire began the day still 260 runs behind Yorkshire in their first innings and with only four wickets in hand, all the specialist batsmen gone. Tino Best began the day with an erratic first over to Luke Sutton, who was singularly unimpressed to receive a near beamer first ball. But in Best's next over Tom Smith was surprised by a slower, straight ball and sent a simple return catch, departing for 16. Glen Chapple came in with obviously aggressive intent, and both batsmen laid into Azeem Rafiq, with the slog-sweep being their preferred method of execution. It was an entertaining partnership of positive cricket, ending when Chapple (21) miscued a drive off Rafiq to mid-off.
Lancashire were now 235 for eight, still 212 behind and seemingly doomed to follow on.
Kyle Hogg, however, is too talented a batsman to be coming in at number ten, despite his habit of making some useful runs before throwing his wicket away. This time he did much more than merely bat usefully. While Sutton might have reminded the oldest members okay, just a joke of the famous Lancashire stonewaller Dick Barlow of the 1880s, the left-handed Hogg, standing tall at the crease and driving particularly well, rarely looked in trouble as he dominated the Yorkshire bowling, pace and spin alike. By lunch the score had reached 283, with only another 15 needed to save the follow-on, and after the break the tempo increased and this target was reached with the greatest of ease.
Two successive fours brought Hogg his fifty, off 84 balls, and he sailed past his previous first-class best of 71. He was looking good for what would have been a thoroughly deserving century when, on 88 and perhaps disturbed by the thought, he drove a catch straight at short extra cover off Adil Rashid. His runs came out of a partnership of 121 for the ninth wicket in 145 minutes with Sutton, who was to finish unbeaten with 47 off 154 balls. Daren Powell lasted four balls for two runs, and Lancashire were dismissed for 358. They were 89 runs behind Yorkshire, but no doubt at the start of play they would have happily settled for that. Rashid took five wickets for 90 runs, while Rafiq had four for 92.
Midway through the third day Yorkshire went in a second time, Adam Lyth hitting a rather streaky four past square leg off the first ball of the innings. Jacques Rudolph did not last long, however; he allowed himself to be distracted by an ignorant spectator moving by the sightscreen and, flashing at a ball from Daren Powell outside the off stump, was caught by the keeper for 4. Lyth nearly followed not long afterwards, pulling a ball from Powell that brushed mid-off up-stretched fingers on its way to the boundary. Lancashire's bad luck seemed to be catching up with the again, as both Lyth and Anthony McGrath edged balls into the slips that just failed to carry. At tea, Yorkshire were 25 for one.
After the break, Yorkshire's immediate policy seemed to be to chug along at about three an over rather than put their advantage into jeopardy by gambling on quick runs and an early declaration on the fourth day. Or perhaps they were mindful of the fact that the third session had seen batting collapses on both the first two days. All went steadily until Lyth, on 29, just 18 runs short of his thousand for the season, threw away his chance of being the first in the country with an injudicious pull off Kyle Hogg that had him caught at deepish square leg; 56 for two.
McGrath, regularly allowed to utilized his favourite cover drive, began to flourish, but Jonny Bairstow (11) went for an unwise slog to leg off the left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan and sliced a catch to backward point; 96 for three. Shortly afterwards, just before the McGrath reached his second fifty of the match off 90 balls, which completed his contribution for the day; Gerard Brophy was his partner with 6. Yorkshire will start the final day exactly 200 runs ahead, needing to score quite a few more runs to declare, and will then have to take ten Lancashire wickets in order to win. The odds suggest a draw is the most likely result, but nothing can be ruled out.