Gillespie lauds dominant Yorkshire
Yorkshire 390 (Lees 100, Gale 103, Rashid 72) and 7 for 0 beat Middlesex 175 (Berg 54, Patterson 4-39, Plunket 4-50) and 219 (Rashid 5-78) by 10 wickets
It only took the morning session for Yorkshire to complete a comprehensive win over Middlesex, as they jumped to the top of County Championship. Taking the six wickets they needed on the final day for 82 runs, Yorkshire were just shy of an innings win, but their 10-wicket victory reflects the dominance they have enjoyed from start to finish.
Certainly Jason Gillespie, the head coach who had to read extracts of the riot act to his side after they were dismissed for 96 against Sussex in their first game of the season, was buoyed by every aspect of Yorkshire's first victory at Lord's since 1987 (although the last time this fixture was played here was in 1998). He could even afford the grace to sympathise with the hosts.
"It's tough for Middlesex because they play at the home of cricket and every team wants to play here," he said. "It's always a challenge for them because teams lift their game and we were no different. Our boys have been excited all week and we're absolutely chuffed to come out and beat a really strong team, who haven't been beaten here in two years."
Adil Rashid claimed his first five-wicket haul of the summer with two wickets on the final day - Gillespie championing a "diligent and consistent" approach to training that has allowed Rashid to play more expressive cricket - while Steven Patterson and Liam Plunkett chipped in to cap off a supreme bowling performance overall. The four wickets taken on Thursday evening were all the more impressive given the amount of effort Patterson, Plunkett and Ryan Sidebottom had put in to take nine earlier in the day, as Middlesex followed on.
The ho-humming in the press box before tea as to whether Andrew Gale would enforce the follow-on was based solely on the freshness of his bowlers. There was no hesitation from Gale, such is the high standard of fitness that physio Scott McAllister and strength and conditioning coach Tom Summers have been able to instil into their players. Even in the field - from chasing the ball to running across between overs to not allow Middlesex's batsmen any relief - the energy throughout the team was clear to see.
"Scott and Tom need to take a lot of credit for how they prepare the boys physically," said Gillespie. "They're in great shape, strong and fit - they can play big innings, they can bowl long spells. It's exactly what you want from our team.
"I might have the title of first-team coach but it really is a team effort with our support staff, starting with Martin Moxon who has been a wonderful for myself, Paul Farbrace, Ian Dews and Richard Damms. We all work really well together."
Asked whether this was one of Yorkshire's best wins of the season based on their domination throughout, Gillespie was unsure. "We've had some really good victories this year and it's hard to pinpoint one because they've all come in different circumstances; we've had chases, bowled sides out following on and so on. The most satisfying thing is that different guys have stood up in different games and got the job done. It really ties in with our strong squad - we want contributions from everyone."
Strong squad indeed, especially when you consider the players they did not have in this match. Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Tim Bresnan are away with England, while Jack Brooks - who spent the intervals in this match bowling on the Nursery Ground and doing laps of the outfield - has a scan on his left thumb early next week to see if he can return to action.
John Simpson was the first to fall on the final day when he inexplicably placed his own feather in Gale's cap - rewarding the Yorkshire captain for some innovation when he brought Richard Pyrah in at short mid-off. Patterson put the ball on a full, driveable length and Simpson obliged - Pyrah didn't have to move an inch.
When Sidebottom then took two of Neil Dexter's stumps out of the ground, Gareth Berg took it upon himself, for the second time in this match, to inconvenience Yorkshire. His 38, scored with his usual punchiness, combined with 22 runs from the last three batsmen meant an innings defeat was avoided and Adam Lyth and Alex Lees had to "chase" five to win. Three maidens, three byes and a four later, they were there.
For Middlesex, the defeat compounded their inability to finish off Sussex in the previous game - a win would have seen them go top - and the fact that they will be without their captain, Chris Rogers, for the next four Championship games as he reports for Ashes duty.
This match showed just how valuable Rogers' runs are to Middlesex's cause. In his absence, they will need to find something from somewhere to get their season back on track. Adam Voges is expected to arrive once his participation in the Champions Trophy has ended, and the same goes for Eoin Morgan: two high-quality players who can add substance to the middle-order but will not remedy the vacant opener's position. Joe Denly is the obvious choice, but his form is hardly reassuring.
What they wouldn't give for some Yorkshire depth.