Nottinghamshire edge closer to Championship title
by John Ward

Ground:Headingley, Leeds
Scorecard:Yorkshire v Nottinghamshire
Player:JM Bairstow, RJ Sidebottom, AR Adams
Event:LV County Championship 2010

DateLine: 4th August 2010


Nottinghamshire will win the county championship this year. Well, it is too early to be quite that specific, but it can be said that if they continue to play as well as they did against Yorkshire today, especially in bowling, they are virtually assured of the title. The two teams concerned went into this match rivals at the top of the table, but today there was only one team in it. Nottinghamshire’s bowlers, spearheaded by Ryan Sidebottom, gave the Yorkshire batsmen a hard time from beginning to end, taking full advantage of rather helpful conditions, bowling the home county out for 178. By the close they were only 31 runs behind, with seven wickets still in hand. This could well go down as the day Notts took the championship of 2010 by the throat.


This was the second match for which the new media centre at the Headingley Stadium was open for use. It is at the Kirkstall Lane end, the opposite end of the ground from the old one, four storeys high, open, spacious and with a view that includes much of the city of Leeds over the top of the rugby stand; south-facing, it should be warmer. It is, however, rather isolated from the atmosphere of the crowd and is situated at the edge of the square, meaning that for most matches the view will be from long-on rather than from behind the bowler’s arm. Annoying inefficiencies still occur.


Yorkshire won the toss and decided to bat on a grey, overcast morning. Within minutes they were probably wishing they hadn’t. The Yorkshire renegade, Sidebottom, produced a beauty that lifted and moved away from Adam Lyth, who edged it to the keeper, Chris Read, without a run on the board. The batsmen struggled against the moving ball, runs coming at less than one an over, and Yorkshire suffered another disaster when Anthony McGrath called for a quick single into the covers and then changed his mind. Jacques Rudolph (1), though, was committed and run out by Ali Brown without trying to get back.


There was also a query as to whether Read had dropped a low chance from Andrew Gale, as the Yorkshire captain slashed at a ball from Darrin Pattinson that moved away off the pitch. If he had indeed edged it, Gale immediately celebrated his escape with two off-side fours that relieved the pressure on his team somewhat. Paul Franks, who replaced Pattinson, did for Gale in his first over, winning an lbw appeal against him, though pushing well forward. He made 24, and Yorkshire were now 36 for three.


The fifty was reached, and then Jonny Bairstow decided the time had come to take control. Andre Adams was the victim, as Bairstow drove him for three handsome off-side boundaries in four balls. McGrath also began to attack with success, but then the unpredictable Adams took a surprise wicket, as McGrath (29) played an indecisive stroke and feathered a catch to the keeper. Four were down now for 82, and Gerard Brophy soon followed, Adams producing another fine delivery amid the dross to bowl him for 5. Yorkshire went in for lunch at an unhappy 89 for five, Bairstow still there with 24 but quite subdued after the loss of two partners.


Adil Rashid so often comes to Yorkshire’s rescue after a poor start, and he certainly came out for the afternoon session with guns blazing. He ran to 13 off 16 balls before he moved across his stumps to be adjudged lbw to Pattinson; 104 for six now. Ajmal Shahzad came in to join Bairstow, and it appeared as if a good stand might develop. Shahzad stood firm, while Bairstow showed good judgment, every now and then breaking out with a handsome off-side boundary. It took another magnificent delivery from Sidebottom to dismiss him, a ball that moved sharply across the right-hander at a high pace and clipped his off stump. Bairstow had hit nine fours in his 45, mostly through off-drives, and Yorkshire were now 136 for seven.


Shahzad, despite sticking around, never looked comfortable, and finally he reached for a ball from Franks outside his off stump and edged a catch to the keeper; he made 17. David Wainwright showed similar solid defence, taking 35 minutes to get his first run. Finally Sidebottom had to be rested and the pressure lifted somewhat. Steven Patterson fought hard, but at present he is not a great force with the bat and was lbw to Samit Patel for 10. Wainwright was now beginning to take advantage of the poorer balls, having reached 20, but Oliver Hannon-Dalby became the fourth lbw victim of the innings, to Patel, before he got any further. Four bowlers took two wickets each, but the best was undoubtedly Sidebottom, who took two for 25 off 15 overs and continually troubled the batsmen with his good pace, movement and accuracy.


Nottinghamshire began their reply after tea. Shahzad began with a wide almost reminiscent of Harmison at Brisbane, and nine runs came off the first over. In contrast, Patterson bowled a tight line just outside off stump and was much more economical. He took the first wicket, though a fortunate one, as Alex Hales slashed at a ball that was almost a wide and was caught by the keeper for 2; 22 for one. Mark Wagh began painfully slowly, but Matt Wood was in good form, working the ball skilfully about the field and keeping the board ticking over. When the team 50 came up in the fifteenth over, Wood had scored 40 of them. Wagh made just 4 from 35 balls when Hannon-Dalby got a beauty right through him, bowling him at 52 for two. This was in conditions now friendlier towards batsmen, as the heavy clouds had largely dispersed and there was a lot of sunshine.


Patel looked in better form, cracking his third ball through the covers for four. Soon afterwards Wood cracked a ball from Patterson wide of mid-on for four to reach his fifty off 68 balls. The bowler struck back shortly afterwards, though, moving a ball back in to trap Wood lbw for 59. David Hussey began with typical confidence and quickly reached double figures with a superb straight drive for four off Rashid. Off the last ball of the day he cracked the same bowler past mid-off to the boundary, to finish with 35, Patel on 37 and the team on 147 for three, will in command on the match at this point. There was a crowd of well over a thousand people throughout the day, despite unpleasant weather early on.


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