|Scorecard:||Yorkshire v Worcestershire|
DateLine: 15th July 2011
YORKSHIRE v WORCESTERSHIRE Day 1, by John Ward at Scarborough
Close of play: Worcestershire 168; Yorkshire 135 for five.
Yorkshire should have dominated the first day’s play of their return match against Worcestershire at Scarborough. Having dismissed the visitors for 168 – although at one stage they looked as if they might not reach 100 – they finished the day at a disappointing 135 for five. Their heroes were their seamers, who did a fine job, and their captain Andrew Gale, who overcame a poor start to his team’s innings with a superb innings of 68 not out. Their villains consisted of some poor fielders and certain batsmen who threw their wickets away with poor strokes, so that they are in danger of squandering their advantage.
The Scarborough pitch, on a day of changeable weather, was green for modern cricket, perhaps a sign of Yorkshire’s desperation for a second championship victory of the season, against the only team they have thus far beaten in this competition. Winning the toss, they put Worcestershire in to bat, and from the start their bowlers dominated. The crowd for the day numbered about three thousand.
From the start the opening bowlers, Ryan Sidebottom and Tim Bresnan, for once released by England, made the ball lift at times and move, often sharply. The first batsman to go was Matthew Pardoe, trapped lbw by Sidebottom without scoring off 11 uncomfortable deliveries. In the next over and without addition to the total of 11, Bresnan made a ball fly off the pitch and Daryl Mitchell edged a hard high catch to first slip.
Vikram Solanki and a dogged Moeen Ali dug in, but Andrew Gale changed his opening bowlers fairly soon, and with devastating effect. Rich Pyrah’s second ball had Solanki dropped at second slip, but the same batsman fenced at his fifth delivery and was caught at the wicket for 18. In the next over, Ajmal Shahzad’s first, Ali (4 off 32 balls) edged to first slip and Worcestershire were deep in trouble again at 33 for four. Eight runs later Alexei Kervezee (7) was trapped lbw to Pyrah, the straightest of Yorkshire’s bowlers, although the others found more movement.
A vital moment in the innings came when Gary Balance at second slip dropped his second chance of the innings, allowing Gareth Andrew, then on 8, to survive. Soon afterwards Balance did catch out James Cameron off Sidebottom for 10 and was to take another catch ,later in the innings, but his miss of Andrew proved to be serious.
Lunch came at 60 for six, but after the break Andrew decided to seize the initiative. Sidebottom and Bresnan, of all people, found themselves hammered for 43 in three overs, most of these to Andrew, and the score shot up past 100. Andrew was the highest scorer of the innings, making 40 off 44 balls before falling to a diving match at mid-off. The cover-drive had been his most prolific stroke. He left at 114 for seven, and another valuable partnership followed as Ben Scott and Saeed Ajmal took the score to 152. They made 26 and 27 not out respectively.
The final total was 168, the last two wickets falling to Bresnan off successive balls. Bresnan finished with four wickets for 64, and Sidebottom three for 40. Shahzad bowled much better and with greater control than he has done for weeks, deserving more than his single wicket, while Pyrah did a sound job for his two wickets. All the bowlers would have returned better figures, though, had they been backed up better in the field: there were four dropped catches and several misfields.
Yorkshire did not begin their reply well, losing Joe Root without facing a ball, a victim of cricket’s most unfair law. He was doing his job as non-striker, backing up though not excessively, when his partner Adam Lyth drove straight, only for the ball to rebound off the bowler Alan Richardson’s hand and fortuitously break the stumps at the bowler’s end before Root could get back.
The Worcestershire bowlers, Richardson and Jack Shantry, were unable to get as much movement as Yorkshire’s seamers had done, but they found just enough to be awkward and bowled accurately and well. Lyth and Anthony McGrath dug in to see them off, but this policy did not work, as Lyth, with 9 off 33 balls, was adjudged caught at the wicket off Shantry, although he, genuinely or otherwise, appeared most surprised by the decision. Yorkshire were 15 for two in the tenth over, a poor start.
McGrath and Gale fought back with some good strokes, mainly by the former, but also had some narrow escapes, both from lbw appeals and from plays and misses. But when Andrew replaced Richardson the batsmen looked to dominate and the runs began to flow. Ajmal was the next bowler to suffer, as Gale raced past McGrath to his fifty (51 balls) and the team’s hundred with a flurry of boundaries. But as Gale flourished, McGrath ground almost to a halt, and was finally dismissed lbw to the long-suffering Andrew for 32. The pair had added 92 and given Yorkshire welcome relief after their bad start.
Jonny Bairstow now joined Gale just before the close, and played positively, his natural game, until being trapped lbw to a quicker ball from Ajmal for 16, unwisely hitting across the line. The night-watchman, Richard Pyrah, was then run out without scoring as Gale called for a totally unnecessary quick single and both batsmen hesitated; 133 for five. As has happened before this season, Yorkshire are now in danger of throwing away a hard-earned advantage and will need to play with particular care and determination on the morrow to ensure they keep their now rather slim advantage. They are 33 runs behind with five wickets to fall.