Final day Report
by John Ward

Ground:Headingley, Leeds
Scorecard:Yorkshire v Northamptonshire

DateLine: 3rd June 2012


Yorkshire v Northampton
Day 4, from Headingley

Result: Northamptonshire (253 and 250/6) drew with Yorkshire (416).


Dogged batting by Northamptonshire against some rather uninspired Yorkshire bowling ensured that the home county could not make up for time lost to rain during the match and achieve a victory. Alex Wakeley's 66 was the leading contribution for the visitors, but most of the top order chipped in with defiant innings that in the end ensured the safety of their team.


Northamptonshire resumed at 43 for one at the normal starting time, with only a draw to play for. The morning was dry but overcast, with the light giving cause for concern at times but never stopping the game. They almost lost Stephen Peters in the first over, as an indifferent return from the third-man region allowed him to scramble back after setting off for an unwise third run.


But runs were few and far between after that, with good bowling from Steven Patterson and Ryan Sidebottom rendering the batsmen almost strokeless under gloomy skies. It was a batsman who blinked first, as Peters, perhaps in desperation, tried to drive ball from Patterson which beat and bowled him. He made 22 off 68 balls, and Northamptonshire were 47 for two. Unfortunately for Yorkshire, their bowlers were never quite as good again during the day.


Considering the defensive policy of the batsmen, Yorkshire should perhaps have had a more attacking field setting, and they left open the third-man region where a fair proportion of the runs came from. Matthew Starc when he came on tended to spray the ball down the leg side again, but when moved to the Kirkstall Lane end he bowled much better and caused the batsmen some very worrying moments. Azeem Rafiq was bowling well from the Rugby Stand end, varying his pace and getting some spin, and he finally removed Kyle Coetzer, caught at short leg for a dogged 39. He was replaced by Rob White, who was the most positive batsman of the morning, and at lunch Northamptonshire had reached 120 for three.


After lunch White continued to play well, being the only batsman in the team prepared or able to drive, and soon overtook Alex Wakely, although he was dropped on 37 off a difficult chance in the slips. Wakely suddenly climbed in on the act by driving a ball from Rafiq for six, but then, when both were equal on 42, Patterson slipped in a fine yorker that beat and bowled White for 42; 160 for four. He faced 56 balls and was by some way the fastest scorer of the innings to date.


By now Northamptonshire were just three runs short of Yorkshire’s first-innings total and still had four wickets in hand. Two balls later Andrew Hall flicked a ball to the long-leg boundary and Northamptonshire were in the black again. Hall’s main plan was to dig in again, though, and he had to be prised out (7 off 26 balls) by a fine ball from the inconsistent Starc that moved away and had him caught at the wicket; 187 for five.


Wakeley reached a steady fifty and the war of attrition continued, until Starc again produced a magic ball that shot right through Wakeley like a dose of salts and bowled him for a valuable 66, scored off 144 balls. He was the last specialist batsman to depart, leaving the all-rounders and tail to continue to fight for a draw. When tea came with the score at 205 for six, 42 runs ahead, the match was still in the balance.


Yorkshire missed two opportunities soon after tea, as Con de Lange was dropped twice off successive balls from Rafiq, and this was perhaps the final turning point of the match. Yorkshire brought in four close fielders to their spinners, but this enabled Northamptonshire to score more quickly rather than Yorkshire to take wickets.


After a few overs the second new ball became available, with Northamptonshire now 219 for six, 56 runs ahead. But the bowlers lacked any real venom, and Yorkshire’s hopes were looking increasingly dim when the umpires brought the players off the field for bad light just before five o'clock. 22 overs remained at that stage and Northamptonshire were now 87 runs ahead, a situation where a result was now very unlikely even if play could continue. Overall, things might have been different for Yorkshire if they had held all their catches in both innings.


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