April 28, 2013

From sack 'em to back 'em

An exhilarating win for Yorkshire means the supporters' mood has swung from despair to mad optimism overnight

It's good to be travelling the county circuit again. I love the away games.

As a Yorkshire supporter you've got a choice. Sit with your mates in a little island of misery or, if the game is going our way, the source of some unattractive crowing: "Any decent team out o' t' Bradford League would beat this lot."

Alternatively, you can mingle with random strangers, fellow lovers of the best form of the game - but you're never quite sure what you're going to get.

At Chester-le-Street I found myself on the fringe of the Yorkshire mob, next to a very well-spoken local gent (not a trace of "little fishy in a little dishy") and he clearly knew his cricket. He knew Durham and Yorkshire cricket especially, as he had been a Yorkshire supporter prior to Durham's elevation. Really good bloke, as they nearly all are, these county supporters.

But … he was absolutely useless at mental arithmetic. Durham were batting in their second innings on the third day, with a first-innings lead of 60 and tea approaching. He was trying to work out the lead at tea should his team score at four an over, and the possibility of getting Yorkshire in that night.

He had about half a dozen goes at it, but he either forgot to add on the 60, or he got the number of overs remaining wrong, or he made a mistake with the multiplication. As a former maths teacher I sat there and said nowt. It was funny.

In the end, of course, Paul Collingwood did the same calculation, rather more accurately, and came up with an equation that Yorkshire - and Joe Root and Adil Rashid - managed to solve. Unfortunately, I had returned home and I missed Root's 182 on the final day. Some said it was a better innings than his 222 not out at the Ageas Bowl the previous year. I find it hard to conceive an innings better than that, on that pitch, against that bowling.

Anyway, Root revealed his class at Chester-le-Street and so, in the post-match interview, did Collingwood, praising the man who had inflicted defeat on his team. What a great sportsman, a credit to the game and to his county club. He is a cricketer I have always treasured, having seen his double-century in Adelaide and his match-saving knock in Cape Town.

Next up, it will be Derbyshire, at Headingley, starting on Monday.

I am looking forward to seeing three players in particular. David Wainwright has been a favourite of mine since the day I first saw him, a very small, young left-arm spinner, playing for Yorkshire second XI at Todmorden in 2002.

Former Essex boy Tony Palladino is noted for his brisk bowling, but I saw him play an innings of astonishing brilliance in a second XI game at Stamford Bridge, which is not a football ground in London (since you ask) but a lovely village outside York, scene of that 'other' battle in 1066, the one the English king won.

Then there's Shiv Chanderpaul. What can I add to the millions of words that have been written? He is a great batsman, not so ugly as some think, for when he comes up out of that weird stance he gets into orthodox and attractive positions. Nor is he necessarily a slow scorer. He is hard to get out, harder than any man alive, but he can hit when needs be, and has the gift of timing.

The professionals who run the Yorkshire team may have their feet on the ground (with a bit of luck!) but the supporters' mood has swung from despair to mad optimism overnight.

'Drop the captain' and 'sack the coach' has become 'same team next week', though we remain concerned for Adam Lyth's form and worried about the England calls in the near future. There's also a niggling doubt about the fielding. We're now holding almost everything in the slips, but by putting the young lads in there we are condemning the donkeys to patrol the wide open spaces.

But that seems a minor quibble after our win and, best of all, isn't it forecast to get a bit warmer?

Dave Morton, now retired, grew up worshipping the great Yorkshire team of the 1950s