Yorkshire v Somerset, Specsavers Championship Division One, Headingley August 29, 2018

Lewis Gregory and Steven Davies leave Yorkshire conscious of relegation threat

James Hildreth guides through the off side © Getty Images

Somerset 374 for 8 (Azhar 89, Hildreth 81, Davies 80, Gregory 65, Brooks 4-103) v Yorkshire
Scorecard

According to psychologists there are four states of competence and as Lewis Gregory and Steven Davies struck the ball to all parts on a sunlit evening, and Somerset helter-skeltered to 374 for 8 by the close, there was little doubt among the Headingley cognoscenti which category they were minded to put the Yorkshire attack.

Optimists were never going to be in the majority with Yorkshire only four points above the relegation positions - the Roses match in a fortnight could be a tense affair - but when Somerset's openers, Marcus Trescothick and Eddie Byrom, had departed in the first half-hour with only five runs on the board, a few of them could be found, cowering ever so slightly as they suggested that perhaps things were not as bad as painted and that Andrew Gale, the coach, deserved patience in a difficult transtion period.

But by the close, nobody would have made much of a claim that this had been a day of Conscious Competence and certainly not of Unconscious Competence, a state of perfection that even the great Yorkshire sides were rarely allowed by the critics to have attained. Nope, it was a toss-up between Conscious Incompetence and Unconscious Incompetence and, while they were on the subject of tosses, why on earth had Yorkshire chosen to bowl?

There was easily enough life in the pitch for the pace bowlers to make it an eminently fair call, but they failed to take advantage, particularly in the first session, and now must negotiate the rest of the match with three pace bowlers after a recurrence of a split toe for Matt Fisher, which first needed stitches on England Lions duty a month ago.

The Headingley mood might have been lightened when Jack Brooks arrested Somerset's charge with two wickets in a single over - Gregory flicking to midwicket for 65 from 46 balls and then Davies falling to a good catch by Gary Ballance at extra cover for 80, itself quick enough at 122 deliveries. After a vigorous stand of 114 in 18 overs, Somerset had been pegged back a little at 346 for 7.

But this was the Brooks, the crowd-pleasing Brooks, the headband-warrior Brooks, the Brooks who can enliven the most prosaic of sessions in an instant with fulsome, attacking pace bowling, sometimes even attacking batting. And this was also the Brooks who it was confirmed this week will join Somerset at the end of the season on a three-year contract, because Yorkshire would only offer him two. Brooks, in many ways, has been a psychologist for the more hardened members of the Yorkshire crowd, a player who makes it fun, and as such a little bit of happiness has slipped away.

A three-year contract for a fast bowler, at 34, clearly has considerable risk attached, and Somerset would be foolish not to know that, but Yorkshire are facing a difficult transition when good humour will not be readily available. Brooks' uplifting qualities will be missed. To announce his transfer now had not pleased every onlooker but he is a professional and it helped to clear his mind in a difficult situation.

Jack Brooks appeals © Getty Images

"I'm not ready for goodbyes yet - I fully intend to finish on a high," Brooks said on the eve of the game. To help keep Yorkshire up, Somerset's title challenge would have to be collateral damage. A return of 4 for 103 in 25 overs proved he still has much to offer without the need for sheepish looks towards the away dressing room and also took him within five wickets of 300 first-class victims for Yorkshire.

He took one of the two new-ball wickets, defeating Byrom with bounce and providing a catch to Andy Hodd. Hodd's presence was unexpected. As soon as Jonny Tattersall added wicketkeeping to his CV and broke into Yorkshire's side this season in all formats, he had announced his retirement at the end of the season, but Tattersall suffered a back spasm the day before the match and Hodd made an emergency return from Taunton where he was due to play for Yorkshire's 2nd XI.

If there was life in the pitch for Yorkshire's bowlers, there was not quite enough pace and several edges in the first hour fell short of the slips. Somerset's innings duly settled, underpinned by a third-wicket stand of 137 in 33 between James Hildreth and Azhar Ali who both made 80s. Hildreth flirted with danger early on before settling into some fine square-of-the-wicket play; David Willey eventually won a catch at first slip with one angled across him. Azhar was more watchful, treating Brooks, in particular, with respect, and he possessed such security in far-from-straightforward conditions that it was something of a surprise when Josh Shaw yorked him with his hundred in sight.

The mood of the sixth-wicket stand of 114 in 18 overs was something else. If you bowl short and wide at Davies you will certainly rush the game on, one way or another, and he feasted on Shaw after tea. Gregory, encouraged forth by some Yorkshire fill-in bowling, picked up where he had left off in the Vitality Blast quarter-final, turning a situation that Somerset were barely edging at 229 for 5 (par was perhaps 260) into a day with which they would have been immensely pleased.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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