Yorkshire scrap on tough first day against Kent
Kent 345 for 5 v Yorkshire
If Geoffrey Boycott, Yorkshire's newly elected president, was studying the scores at Headingley on the opening day of the season during the early hours from his hotel in Colombo, he could have been forgiven for believing his beloved county had suffered a dismal start to their campaign.
Tipped as one of the Division Two promotion candidates, they lost the toss and despite the ground being under snow and ice 24 hours previously, failed to claim a wicket for 37 overs. They finished the opening day with only five wickets to their name against a strong Kent line-up including six winter recruits.
Even the most optimistic of Yorkshire supporters would struggle to suggest it was a good day but it was by no means disastrous and, having had little help from the conditions, they stuck to their task on a good batting wicket that reflected well on the Headingley groundstaff, given their limited preparation for the opening fixture.
"I was a bit undecided about the toss with the pitch being under the covers yesterday and all the snow, so I think it was a good toss to lose," Andrew Gale, Yorkshire's captain, said. "There was no moisture in it really and it was a good-looking pitch - you would expect that pitch in June and July, not the first week in April."
Wayward early on, although that might be explained by early season rustiness, they fought back well after a 141-run opening stand between Scott Newman, on loan from Middlesex, and Rob Key.
Inevitably, Ryan Sidebottom picked up where he left off last summer by provided the breakthrough, removing Newman's middle stump with a yorker shortly after lunch and giving the impetus for a late Yorkshire rally just as the doom-mongers in the crowd were warming up.
Key played the innings of the day, showing patience and an ability to judge quick singles until that capacity deserted him with his century only three runs away when he pushed to mid-on and lost the race with Gale's direct throw at the non-striker's end.
Adil Rashid, who has slowed his run up to almost walking pace, had Ben Harmison caught at slip shortly before tea, but looked to have made a crucial error in dropping West Indies batsman Brendan Nash at slip after he had raced to his half-century off 47 balls.
Ajmal Shahzad ensured the miss was not too costly when he induced an edge that was sharply taken by Anthony McGrath at slip and Rashid completed an encouraging comeback by winning an lbw appeal against Michael Powell in the penultimate over of the day.
"It's the first day of the season and ideally you want to have a great first day," Gale said. "It hasn't gone to plan but by no means is it the end of the world. I want the lads to come back, hold the heads up high and show what they can do.
"I thought we stuck to our task well. Throughout the day we didn't build enough pressure. Just as I thought we were starting to put a few maidens together we bowled one or two bad balls an over. There were too many boundaries today, but it's not over yet. It's a good pitch and I think we can bat as well on it." Boycott, no doubt, would have nodded approvingly over his breakfast in Sri Lanka.
Edited by Alan Gardner