Yorks off key as Mullaney conducts Notts
Yorkshire 29 for 3 trail Nottinghamshire 443 (Lumb 135, Mullaney 79, Franks 70) by 414 runs
For four sessions this match was rich in adagio and short on allegro. No shame in that, of course. Nottinghamshire's batsmen were charged with building a substantial first-innings total on a testing wicket against an accurateYorkshire attack. Their lunchtime score on the second day - 242 for 5 off 101.5 overs - bore testimony to the hard work both sides had done
There had been no criticism of the tempo of the cricket from the knowledgeable crowd either. Decked as they were in sunhats and pastel shades on this glorious Thursday in June, promenaders of both loyalties understood very well that it is not always possible to play festival cricket, even at Scarborough.
And, yes, there is often a symphonic quality to a fine innings, whether it is played by a team or an individual. Not for nothing do the coaches talk about the value of batting in partnerships: one pair shows fierce restraint in order that their successors can play with gorgeous freedom.
Nottinghamshire's first innings 443 possessed something of this musical balance. Michael Lumb and Ed Cowan's 101-run stand on the first day was the prelude to Lumb's attack on the Yorkshire attack in the evening session. On Thursday, Lumb and Taylor, the latter batsman probably carrying his defensive duties from principle to dogma, blunted Andrew Gale's bowlers in the morning in the hope that a big score would be the consequence of their self-denying ordinance.
Lumb added 19 runs to his overnight score before being caught by second-slip Adam Lyth off Steven Patterson for 135; Taylor had faced 148 balls for his 38 runs when he unwisely tried to whip the same admirable fast bowler to leg in the over before lunch.
The strategy bore fruit but the sheer brio and chutzpah of what took place in the afternoon session still came as a lovely surprise for Nottinghamshire fans, many of whom were prepared for yet more studious sonatas and scurried singles. Steven Mullaney, unbeaten on nought at the break, unveiled a series of excellent drives and cuts as the Yorkshire bowlers finally forswore their vows of rectitude and accuracy.
In company with Paul Franks, Mullaney added 87 in 16 overs before he was caught off bat and boot at short leg for a 97-ball 79. Richard Pyrah came in for particularly rough treatment, Mullaney cutting and gliding the medium-pacer for five boundaries in nine balls. And before dismissing Mullaney, Adil Rashid had been hit for two sixes, one straight, the other over long-on as the batsman capitalised on his colleagues' work.
After tea Franks, too, played with far greater freedom as the innings moved from exposition to its final development. Long regarded as one of county cricket's more valuable performers - a players' player, if you will - Franks made 70 off 108 balls, taking his team's total beyond the 400-mark and finally battering Gale's bowlers into defeat. Three late wickets made not a minim of difference to the balance of the piece. Patterson, who took 3 for 74 off 37 overs was the pick of the Yorkshire attack and it is a little puzzling that this most consistent of seamers has never received any sort of England call.
There was a late clatter of wickets for the Nottinghamshire supporters to enjoy too. Luke Fletcher and Harry Gurney are one of the English game's more hostile pace duos. With the new ball and on a pitch that offers bounce and movement to those prepared to bend their backs, the pair removed Adam Lyth and Alex Lees and nightwatchman Patterson, the latter getting a touch to a Hannibal Lecter of a delivery: it was very nasty and went straight for the throat.
Yorkshire still need 265 runs to avoid the follow-on. Almost every member of Chris Read's orchestra had played their parts to perfection; there had been few duff notes. It was something for home supporters to ponder as they made their way out of North Marine Road and back to their hotels and guest houses on a tearfully lovely evening. They may place their hopes on yet another virtuoso performance with the bat from Rashid. But they cannot rely on their newly crowned maestro forever.