Yorkshire reply in a strong manner
by John Ward

Ground:Headingley, Leeds
Scorecard:Yorkshire v Nottinghamshire
Player:DJ Hussey, JA Rudolph
Event:LV County Championship 2010

DateLine: 6th August 2010


At the start of the day Yorkshire, already 319 runs adrift of Nottinghamshire, needed either a monumental batting performance or assistance from the weather to save them from what seemed an otherwise inevitable heavy defeat. They responded with superb fighting spirit, led by a fine century from Jacques Rudolph and with strong support from Adam Lyth and Anthony McGrath – and at the end of the third day they may just achieve the former. At the close they were still 95 runs behind, but had lost only two wickets after batting almost throughout the day.


Nottinghamshire resumed batting with their score at 497 for six, with David Hussey 222 and Paul Franks 57. Right from the third ball, when Hussey came down the pitch to Steve Patterson and got a thick edge to deep square leg for two, it was clear that the visitors were after more runs very quickly. Six runs came off that over, including the 500 total and the third successive century partnership of the innings. Hussey stepped back and smashed Ajmal Shahzad’s first ball over long-on for six, but then lost Franks, his off-side slash being superbly picked up near the point boundary by Jonny Bairstow – who, despite his vivid red hair, was somehow mistaken at first by the scoreboard for the semi-thatched Lyth.


Patterson, the best bowler of the previous day, continued to suffer at the hands of Hussey, who put him over square leg for another six and, with the most unorthodox footwork, virtually slogged at everything. The main aim of the Yorkshire bowlers seemed to be to put the ball as far from his devastating bat as legally allowed, and there were six fielders on the boundary. It took Hussey just seventeen minutes to reach his 250, and the declaration came at the end of the over. His final tally was 251 – the best by a Nottinghamshire batsman ever against Yorkshire – off 250 balls with 29 fours and three sixes. It was also the highest score at Headingley by any visiting batsman against a Yorkshire team. The team total was 545 for seven, a lead of 367.


Yorkshire at least began their second innings, facing a horrendous deficit, better than they did their first, with only a draw to play for – and at this point even that was an Everest to climb. Lyth, despite failing to score two days earlier, lacked nothing in confidence and ran along at about a run a ball, mainly through cuts and cover drives through the attacking field settings. Ryan Sidebottom bowled quite well, but without quite the same accuracy and movement that he had shown in the first innings, bowling a number of leg-side balls to the left-handers. Lyth raced to 37 off 42 balls before he sliced a drive from Paul Franks and was brilliantly caught one-handed by Andre Adams at third slip – a vindication of Nottinghamshire’s decision to retain a good number of close fielders despite the rollicking run rate. But then, they did have a big enough lead to afford it. Yorkshire were 58 for one in the fourteenth over. A brief flurry of rain caused lunch to be taken six minutes early, with the score 73 for one.


The scoring was slower after lunch in the absence of the dynamic Lyth. Rudolph reached his fifty off 99 balls when he hit Samit Patel’s first ball, a juicy full toss, past extra cover for four. He then progressed smoothly to his century off 155 balls, reached not long before tea, looking increasingly confident as he went, and perhaps fired by a determination that a South African was not willing to be upstaged by an Australian. McGrath was quite happy to play safely, keep his wicket up and let his partner (whom he helped to run out in the first innings) his head. Rudolph was still on 100 when he stepped back to cut a ball from Patel and slip failed to hold a sharp chance. Tea found Yorkshire on 196 for one, with Rudolph 104 and McGrath 45.


McGrath took almost half an hour of the final session to reach his fifty, which took him 157 balls and earned some good-humoured ironic applause from the crowd. But his was the right game for Yorkshire’s situation, staying there as long as possible and supporting his in-form partner. He is also reportedly suffering from a sore hand. The 200 partnership came up in due time, as both batsmen scored steadily against an attack that now looked quite innocuous, with Rudolph continuing to show the more flair. He was especially strong through the covers, but McGrath was seldom free to play his favourite drive in the same area.


The last great challenge of the day was the second new ball, 25 minutes before the close. This finally brought the downfall of Rudolph, though it was more due to another brilliant catch by Adams, in the gully off a hard cut. The fortunate bowler was Darren Pattinson; the batsman scored 141 off 241 balls, and hit 19 fours in his superb innings. The partnership had added 211 runs for the second wicket. The night-watchman Patterson safely saw out the day, while McGrath was still there with his admirable 78.


Only three wickets had fallen throughout the day, all of them to outstanding catches. The weather, uncertain at first, brightened in the final session and there was only a brief interruption; the forecast for the final day is not very good, though. Despite their team’s seemingly hopeless position and the uncertain weather, a crowd of at least a thousand was again in attendance, giving the lie to the slander so often put about that the championship is an anachronism. Yorkshire still have a mountain to climb on the final day, but at least they are climbing well. Were Nottinghamshire a little complacent when they took the field a second time with such a big lead? Only they can answer that question, but for certain the final day will be highly competitive.