|Scorecard:||Yorkshire v Warwickshire|
|Event:||LV County Championship 2013|
DateLine: 2nd August 2013
John Ward at Headingley, day 1
Close of play: Yorkshire 294/9 v Warwickshire
This is one of the big matches of the season, matching the reigning champions Warwickshire against the current table leaders Yorkshire on the latter’s home ground at Headingley, Leeds. Warwickshire have had mixed fortunes this season, and Yorkshire hammered them by an innings when they met for the first time at Edgbaston. This time, though, Yorkshire, with a depleted batting side, could only manage a score of 294 for nine by the close. For this they were mainly indebted to their Zimbabwean turned Englishman, Gary Ballance, who scored a fine century at a vital time under the eye of the England selector James Whitaker.
Before play began, Yorkshire awarded county caps to their two successful imported bowlers, Liam Plunkett, who came from Durham, and Jack Brooks, from Northamptonshire. Both teams were well short of full strength: both had players involved in the Test match against Australia at Old Trafford, and in addition James Troughton, the Warwickshire captain, still had not recovered from his back injury, while Yorkshire had both Phil Jaques and Joe Sayers missing through injury. This left Yorkshire dangerously low in batting strength, and they had only four specialist batsmen in their team, all left-handers, with Adil Rashid going in at five.
Warwickshire won the toss and decided to put Yorkshire in to bat on a greenish pitch. The weather was mostly cloudy, while there was a good crowd estimated at around 2500, all on one side of the ground as the western terrace is not opened during championship matches. The first session saw some good competitive cricket. Keith Barker and Chris Woakes opened the bowling, Barker often bowling a little too much outside the off side and Woakes early on straying down leg at times, but both bowled some seriously testing deliveries so the batsmen were never able to relax.
Yorkshire’s new and now regular opening pair of Adam Lyth and Alex Lees were just beginning to look threatening to the visitors when a fine ball from Woakes moved away from the off stump and took the edge of Lyth’s bat; he was caught at second slip for 11 and the score was 25 for one. This was quickly followed by the loss of the Yorkshire captain, Andrew Gale, without scoring; he edged a good ball from Barker to the keeper, a major blow for Yorkshire as he has been in fine batting form recently and the side is short of batsmen.
The Yorkshire innings was therefore in the balance as Gary of that name joined Lees at the crease. Lees, with his upright stance and raised bat, once again showed sound temperament, while Ballance looked sound from the start. In this period of play most of their runs came behind the wicket, especially from cuts to third man. They went in to lunch at 88 for two, Lees on 48 and Ballance 24.
In the first over after lunch Lees brought up his fifty, off 99 balls, but did not last much longer; he pushed outside the off stump at a fine ball from Woakes that moved away and was caught at first slip for 56; 100 for three. Adil Rashid did not look comfortable during his brief stay at the wicket, which ended with a wild slash at a ball from Rankin which he edged to the keeper; he made 7 and did not live up to his promotion to number five.
For a while Azeem Rafiq proved a useful partner for Ballance, scoring 28 of a stand of 50 before he got in a tangle with a short ball from Rankin, edging it on to his pad and thence into the hands of second slip. All five batsmen to go had fallen to catches ‘in the box,’ by wicketkeeper or slips. Yorkshire were 173 for five, which Andrew Hodd helped to take to 190 at tea. Ballance was still there with 76, and with the lower in he was obviously the key figure.
The responsibility did not affect Ballance in the slightest, and he moved to his century in the grand manner, driving a ball from Jeetan Patel for a magnificent straight six; his century took him 171 balls. Hodd, when 21, broke the trend of dismissals when he played a ball from Riki Clarke on to his stumps, making the score 233 for six. At this stage, though, Ballance was looking tired after all his efforts and his innings lost momentum.
Plunkett continued the trend of useful but not substantial supporting innings, reaching double figures (11) and then being trapped lbw by Barker, bowling with the second new ball; 250 for seven. The Yorkshire innings appeared to be subsiding slowly, and soon afterwards Ballance succumbed probably to exhaustion, walking into a full-length delivery from Barker for 112. H batted for nearly five hours, facing 196 balls and scoring 112 runs, with 14 fours and a six. Yorkshire were now 257 for eight.
Ryan Sidebottom (4) was next to go, given out to a leaping delivery from Woakes that was well taken high up by the leaping wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose, but the batsman was not happy about it. The last pair, Steve Patterson and Brooks, went for their strokes, and Barker was removed from the attack by umpire Mark Benson without completing an over for persistently running down the prohibited area of the pitch. The last pair continued to flourish and were still there at the end of the day, the total falling just short of 300. This unbroken stand of 27 did make the Yorkshire effort look rather better, but the exact worth of it will not be evident until ks have batted.
(Article: Copyright © 2013 John Ward)