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Alex Winter at Bristol
May 11, 2012
Yorkshire forfeit and 30 for 1 need 370 more runs to beat Gloucestershire 351 for 9 dec (Williamson 111, Bresnan 5-81, Patterson 4-77) and 48 for 0 dec
A game that was snoozing along to a tame draw suddenly turned around at 3pm when a plan hatched by the two captains was put into action. Yorkshire handed Gloucestershire two batting points by allowing them 52 runs in 19 balls. They declared, Yorkshire forfeited their first innings, and Gloucestershire batted again for 27.1 painful overs after tea, scoring 48. The public address mocked their progress as they declared again, leaving Yorkshire 400 to win in 110 overs.
Jason Gillespie, Yorkshire's new head coach, has stated on two previous occasions that he will go all out for victory. His side left Essex an achievable fourth-innings target at Headingley in the second match of the season and again here he has been very generous to the opposition.
"It's risk versus reward," Gillespie said. "The chance to take 16 points to me is an easy decision. I think you have to risk a loss to go for a win. If you play safe cricket first you'll never win enough games to go up. And I think it's good for our players to try and play when there's a bit of pressure on; it's a test of character. You have to trust your players to do the job and it's a good for them. We'll certainly be going for the runs."
The pitch is good, Gloucestershire were 290 for 4 before their collapse of 5 for 9 brought about the contrived situation. "The feedback from the batsman is that there's a little bit in it but if you stay patient and disciplined, batting gets a little bit easier," was the expected description of conditions from Gillespie. "We're confident if we get through the difficult periods we can put a bit of pressure back on Gloucestershire."
That is certainly possible. Their attack is inexperienced and Alex Gidman denied them the chance to bowl in similar circumstances against Kent at Canterbury. He declared on the fourth morning with a lead of 350; the game petered out.
Gloucestershire will be nervous here because to concede 370 runs on the final day would be a cricketing disaster. But Bristol is not Adelaide and Yorkshire will have to play exceptionally well against the new ball to even set up a chance to overhaul this target.
They have scored heavily in the fourth innings in recent times. In 2006 they made 433 losing to Warwickshire; a year earlier they twice scored above 400 to beat Leicestershire. On both occasions Anthony McGrath made runs at the top of the order. He lingers here at No. 6, poised to provide another knock in another famous victory? Not many are betting on that result. Not even Dr Pangloss-Gillespie. He isn't a gambler he says.
Part of the deal was that Gloucestershire would get a little dart on the third evening. They got 15 overs, one more than scheduled, and removed Joe Sayers - Will Gidman grazing his outside edge. They could have had Adam Lyth too if Alex Gidman had claimed a low chance at first slip.
There were other nervy moments against Will Gidman and Ian Saxelby, who produced decent carry. But it was comfortable batting against Ed Young. How a quality spinner would change Yorkshire's outlook. Young isn't that. He sent down two overs of easily-defendable darts.
It was the opposite of darts that helped set up the declaration. The loopiest bowling achievable allowed Saxelby and Graeme McCarter, on debut, to merrily thrash Gloucestershire to four batting points when three was looking unlikely after the collapse brought about by Steven Patterson. He removed Richard Coughtrie for a 15-ball duck and Ed Young next ball, both caught at slip, before adding Will Gidman to his 4 for 77.
It was a turnaround after the serene progress earlier. Kane Williamson stroked a ball in his gentle manner through the covers to make it three centuries in three first-class matches. He edged Tim Bresnan behind, who then went on to warm up for the first Test by having Ian Cockbain caught at third slip; Alex Gidman caught behind; and bowling Hamish Marshall with a full ball that he dug out but rolled back onto his stumps. Bresnan's two spells of six and seven overs brought 2 for 11 and 2 for 12.
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