Lumb ton provides Scarborough fare
Nottinghamshire 177 for 2 (Lumb 112*) v Yorkshire
Quite frequently during the English summer there descends upon a Championship crowd a near silence that betokens complete content. Such an atmosphere could be discerned at Scarborough at around 3pm on the first afternoon of this match.
Having waited all morning for slight drizzle to abate and for the ground to be dried, the supporters of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and otherwise watched closely as Andrew Gale's attack strove to justify his decision to bowl first. The toss, however, had been made under grey skies and with rain threatening; by the time Alex Hales and Ed Cowan opened their side's innings the weather had faired up nicely and we had bright sunshine by mid-afternoon. At close of play, Chris Read's men had secured the advantage and Michael Lumb had made his first century against his former team since his departure at the end of the 2006 season.
Indeed, this was a day for Lumb to savour. Coming to the wicket in the first over, he added 101 for the second wicket in 40 overs with the arguably even more painstaking Cowan. And when Cowan had been caught at slip off Steve Patterson, Lumb dominated his partnership with James Taylor, Nottinghamshire's No. 4 contributing only 12 of the 76 runs the pair added before bad light sliced another nine overs off the day's allocation.
The only moment when the home side captured an initiative came when Hales flashed irresponsibly at Ryan Sidebottom's fifth ball of the innings and was caught behind for a duck. This continued what has been a very bleak couple of months for the Nottinghamshire opener, who has made only 137 runs in 11 Championship innings and a mere 29 in his last eight. The temptation to blast his way out of such form - as he attempted - must be very great. It is, however, a policy wreathed in risk and further disappointment.
After Hales's dismissal, Cowan and Lumb batted with unremitting care, 11 runs being scored in the first seven overs and 36 in the first 19. But the gradual shift to the more attacking style of batsmanship adopted by Lumb in the last hour or so of the day was built upon the intensity of the very hard cricket played in the afternoon session.
The run rate rarely edged above two runs an over as Cowan and Lumb sought to see off the new ball and quell the Yorkshire bowlers at their freshest. More expansive shots - Lumb's straight drive off Sidebottom, Cowan's crisp cut off Moin Ashraf - were rare events indeed. It was this battle which the Scarborough spectators plainly relished. There was regular applause but nothing too gushing. And there was certainly no chanting: Yorkshire supporters may indeed be something of an army and the odd one might even be the merest trifle eccentric but they really have no interest in proclaiming this fact repetitively to the world in general.
Gale's placed his reliance almost totally upon his seamers; Adil Rashid bowled one over in the first 59 and only five in the 71 that comprised the day's play. The four-strong Yorkshire pace attack did not let their captain down but the sparing use of the legspinner only adds weight to the view that he is now perceived as a batting allrounder.
Such a judgement was being freely expressed by the partisans at North Marine Road, many of whom will have seen Rashid's trio of hundreds in the last three games. Such debates are an essential element of life for county cricket's followers, many of whom delight in their trips to outgrounds on the coast. "Scarborough at Festival time is first-class cricket on holiday," wrote the great JM Kilburn. This may not be the festival but the point still holds.
For it is the littoral truth that county cricket does like to be beside the seaside. Grounds such as Weston-super-Mare, Eastbourne and Lytham may no longer be visited and Hastings is no more but others - Swansea, Southport, Colwyn Bay - still host games fairly regularly, while Hove is a treasured venue of many neutrals.
Then there is Scarborough, which is hosting its 414th first-class match Indubitably established as Yorkshire's second home, the ground is a member of a curious aristocracy of outgrounds, a group which includes Liverpool and Cheltenham, whose place in the five-month poem of the English season is secure. And on the first day of this game Lumb added a few finely-turned stanzas of his own to that ever-changing verse.