Day 1 Report
by John Ward

Ground:Headingley, Leeds
Scorecard:Yorkshire v Northamptonshire

DateLine: 31st May 2012


Yorkshire v Northamptonshire
Day 1, from Headingley
Close of play: Northamptonshire 253; Yorkshire 27/0.


Yorkshire dominated the first day's play against a weakened Northamptonshire team, thanks mainly to some superb pace bowling led by Ryan Sidebottom and Steve Patterson. After slumping to 45 for five, though, the visitors could thank their captain Andrew Hall, who made 79, and his partners in the lower middle order for fighting back and putting on more than 200 for the last five wickets. They were helped by dropped catches, which, although difficult, Yorkshire would have expected to take.


Northamptonshire won the toss, which may have been some slight comfort for a decimated team; reportedly eight of the visiting team's squad are unfit to play. The mainly sunny morning session belonged to Yorkshire all the way, thanks to some outstanding seam bowling by Ryan Sidebottom, the newly capped Steve Patterson and the newly acquired Australian left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc. On a pitch with a tinge of green they found a little movement, and Starc in particular was at times too quick for the batsmen.


Northamptonshire opened their batting with Steven Peters and James Middlebrook, who made a steady start for twenty minutes before Patterson made a ball move away off the pitch enough for Peters (7) to edge a low catch to third slip. Middlebrook moved to a laborious 9 off 32 balls before he also fell to Patterson, lbw. When Starc came on as first change for Sidebottom, who changed ends with success, he quickly produced a fast ball of full length that shattered Alex Wakeley's stumps before he had scored, and Northamptonshire for 21 for three.


Starc did not always get his line right, and Rob White hit him for three leg-side fours in his second over. But in the following over Starc took his revenge, moving a very quick ball in to trap White lbw for his 12 off eight deliveries. This was quickly followed by the wicket of Kyle Coetzer, who edged a ball from Sidebottom to the keeper; he made 12 and the score was now 45 for five.


David Murphy and the captain Andrew Hall dug in deeply, although Hall did escape a very sharp chance behind the stumps off the ball immediately before lunch, when the score was only 52 for five. The sky had now clouded over and a couple of quick light showers immediately after the interval twice sent the players briefly from the field.


Such breaks are often blamed for disrupting the batsmen's concentration, but in fact it was Yorkshire who failed to press home their advantage while Murphy and Hall showed great resolution as they rescued their team from disaster. Murphy on 25 survived a hard low chance to Adam Lyth in the slips, and soon afterwards hit Azeem Rafiq – replacing Adil Rashid, who has been demoted to the second eleven – for a big six wide on long-on. The pair put on 76 runs together before Sidebottom suddenly produced a fine faster delivery that went right through Murphy and had him caught at the wicket for 40. The score was now 121 for six.


Con de Lange settled in with Hall, and the two South Africans were still together at tea, when they had reached 147 for six. Soon after the interval, Hall survived another difficult chance, this one to Anthony McGrath at short midwicket off Patterson on 45, and shortly afterwards reached his fifty. He then lost de Lange, McGrath giving himself something of a boost by trapping him lbw for 23.


Yet another useful stand was to follow, though, as the balance of the match steadily continued to swing slowly against Yorkshire. David Willey now joined Hall and soon began to play his strokes with some freedom. He had made 33 when he slashed a ball through the slips for four, another difficult but possible chance for the Yorkshire fielders. Hall's fine innings finally came to an end on 79, though; he was slowly starting to play his strokes more freely, but now he drove expansively at a delivery with the second new ball from Patterson and was bowled, making the score 232 for eight.


Without addition Willey fell for 39, given out lbw to Sidebottom for 39 after a rather half-hearted appeal. These two quick wickets put Yorkshire back in control for the first time since lunch. Before the last wicket fell, though, Yorkshire lost Patterson, who pulled up in the middle of an over with cramp and had to leave the field. The last pair of Oli Stone and Lee Daggett proved a nuisance for a few overs until Azeem Rafiq claimed his only wicket by bowling Stone for 13, leaving Daggett unbeaten on 4.


The total was 253, scored off 88.4 overs. Sidebottom, once he had changed to the Kirkstall Lane end, and Patterson took three wickets each and were the best bowlers, while Starc did well in patches.


Yorkshire had five overs to bat before the close, but Lyth does not let such situations affect him and he quickly hit three sparkling fours. He and Joe Root survived the day with 27 runs on the board.


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