Gale rues Yorkshire slump
Yorkshire 302 and 148 for 7 (Woakes 4-31) lead Warwickshire 309 (Evans 88, Patel 63, Barker 49, Plunkett 4-74) by 141 runs
Andrew Gale's disappointment at letting a strong position slip away to hand Warwickshire the chance to claim a third straight win would have been felt more sharply had events elsewhere not favoured Yorkshire. Derbyshire's surprise win at Hove guarantees his side stay top, while Durham's defeat at Lord's leaves the title rival whose results were concerning them most with some ground to make up. Moreover, he left the ground in steady rain, which he will not have minded at all if it is a foretaste of what lies ahead on the final day.
Even so, it had been a poor day compared with the opening two, beginning with a sloppy opening session for which Gale could offer no excuse, not least because he was guilty of one of two bad drops that enabled Jeetan Patel to score 63 when he should have been out on 37 or 42. Jack Brooks spilled the first chance, on the square leg boundary, and Gales the second, at short midwicket. Adil Rashid, the legspinner, was the bowler feeling the pain.
Those chances came during a stand of 99 between Patel and Keith Barker, who played some fine cricket shots in making 49 and felt he was unlucky to be given run out as he came back for a second to a firm stroke through cover off Rashid retrieved by Brooks. Patel, with less finesse, hit 10 fours and a six over long-on off Ryan Sidebottom that gave Warwickshire an unexpected lead.
It was the kind of turnaround that gives one side a fillip and creates uncertainty for the other and it was no surprise in that respect that the eight overs Yorkshire had to negotiate before lunch brought more problems as Chris Woakes removed both their openers. Alex Lees, failing to move his feet, edged to third slip before Adam Lyth, playing across a full length ball, was leg-before.
Yorkshire fought back after lunch, Gale seeking to make amends for his drop and Gary Ballance continuing to enjoy his run of form. They added 76 before Gale, trying to adjust to extra bounce, fended a ball from Boyd Rankin that looped to William Porterfield at gully.
Yet more wastefulness followed as Rashid, whose early season form with the bat seems to have deserted him, fell to a poor attempted hook and Azeem Rafiq - batting despite a damaged wrist - was caught off bat and pad. When Ballance was bowled by a full-length ball from Woakes off an inside edge, Warwickshire were again firmly in control. Woakes then had Liam Plunkett caught behind - much to the obvious anger of the batsman, who was adamant he had not hit the ball - to finish the day with 4 for 31.
When bad light and then rain curtailed play early, Yorkshire's advantage looked dangerously small at 141, raising the prospect that Warwickshire might need less than half a day to forge a path to victory, should the weather be kind to them. If they pull it off, the gap between themselves and Yorkshire will be 21 points.
"We were not at our best this morning, it was uncharacteristic," Gale said afterwards. "We missed a couple of easy chances, my own included, and we did not bowl well enough, and we probably took a bit of that into our batting.
"It would have been nice to be four or five down rather than seven but if we can get anything over 200 I think it will be game on tomorrow. And if there is rain about, results elsewhere have gone for us and it might be one of those days you look back on and think that things have gone our way even though we didn't play well."