Yorkshire optimism continues to surge
Yorkshire 52 for 2 trail Nottinghamshire 205 (Lumb 45, Bresnan 3-43, Brooks 3-74) by 153 runs
Optimism abounds in the Broad Acres. Yorkshire began this game five points adrift of Middlesex at the top of the Championship, once again sensing that this could be their year. There has also been the announcement this week of what one Yorkshire newspaper headline delectably referred to as an ambitious "£50 redevelopment plan" for Headingley. No wonder the chairman, Colin Graves, was pictured alongside the story, smiling broadly. That really is Yorkshire value for money.
Sunday starts to the Championship have been well received in Yorkshire and a goodly crowd recognised good value, too, in watching Yorkshire shunt aside Nottinghamshire for 205 in only 56 overs of a constantly entertaining day. They have lost Liam Plunkett to England but they have Tim Bresnan back in the fold. If their young batsmen offset the absence of Joe Root and Gary Ballance, they have enough strength to compete.
At 139 for 8, Yorkshire could have closed out Nottinghamshire for 150 and all but settled matters. Instead, Notts are still in the game, if only just, and they will be desperate for good bowling conditions on the second morning. "If you are going to cock your first innings up, you want to cock it up with 250," said Mick Newell, Notts' coach and now England selector. "But it could have been worse and we will know how much we are in the game this time tomorrow."
Newell also did his utmost to play down his captain's contumely. Chris Read addressed their batting collapse with his usual elan before his innings ended when he was run out for 30. It was quite a mishap: a collision with the bowler, Steve Patterson, which caused him to run wide, a frantic dive for the crease and a rise to his feet to find the umpire Martin Saggers brandishing a finger with theatrical certainty.
Read had just "lost his bearings", according to Newell; you are less likely to charged by the ECB for losing your bearings compared to losing your rag. As for the ball, the sub fielder Josh Shaw dived to parry it from mid-off to mid-on where Jack Leaning threw down the stumps. Read, shorn of bearings, and turning round to express a sense of grievance, was helpfully advised of the direction of the pavilion steps by Yorkshire spectators just in case he wandered off in the direction of Bradford.
"Hitting Patterson made him bear off to the right and he lost his bearings a bit. It wasn't a dig at Martin, it was more the situation he had found himself in," Newell said. "It was more because he bumped into Patto, but a batsman has to find is way to the other end. He wasn't blaming Patterson. The bowler was looking the other way. He just felt it was unlucky, a bit unjust. He had no suggestion to Yorkshire that it was unfair."
Read counterattacking is always a delight. He flirted with the slips on several occasions and would have flirted with gully if Yorkshire had one. Jonny Bairstow dropped a challenging inside edge off Patterson and jarred his left side in the process.
Read's energy can be contagious. Michael Lumb had batted with discipline against his former county, eager to underline the obvious truth that he is a much better player than when he departed. Suddenly, he began risking one-handed drives on the up. Richard Pyrah dropped him at short extra cover, off Patterson, from such a shot before he fell, on 49, gloving Tim Bresnan down the leg side. Ajmal Shahzad, also burning to prove himself, made nought.
Notts' top order departed in little more than an hour on a pitch offering some seam movement and decent carry. There was a four-ball duck for Samit Patel among the departures and while it was tempting to speculate that he was suffering a hangover from his exclusion from England's Test squad - he failed to get on top of the bounce and slapped Jack Brooks to backward point - his record at Headingley is not a good one.
Newell, part of the England selection team that left him out, now has the tricky situation of resetting his goals with Notts. "One of the challenges for me is to retain a relationship with a player when I am part of a selection panel that hasn't picked him," he conceded, "but my view is it is up to him how he reacts to that. He knows he has been discussed a lot in all forms of the game and if he maintains his form that will continue."
Read's tomfoolery was followed up by a rumbustious ninth-wicket stand of 65 in 11 overs between Peter Siddle and Luke Fletcher, which ended when Fletcher deposited Adil Rashid high to Bresnan at long-on; Andre Adams then drilled him to the same fielder, a tougher chance, well taken. Fletcher is certainly a big unit these days. If he was a fridge, it would need three men to get him off the lorry and they would leave you to carry him into the house yourself on the grounds off Health and Safety.
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo