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June 10, 2014
Nottinghamshire 205 and 102 for 2 lead Yorkshire 247 (Finch 45, Pyrah 45, Siddle 4-65) by 60 runs
Michael Lumb, in the first flush of youth, doubtless had cause to resent the more stubborn traits of the Headingley crowd as they invariably grumbled at a chancy shot or two before he upped sticks for Hampshire and later Nottinghamshire in search of the good life. A decade or so later, he must enjoy getting his own back. At the crease, he can now display the same immovable attributes as his one-time critics when the mood takes him and as a result he has arrested Yorkshire's Championship challenge.
Yorkshire must have hoped for rich pickings when post-tea rain relented to give them an unexpected bonus of 12 overs late in the day with Nottinghamshire only 17 runs to the good, but Lumb and James Taylor were unwavering. With Notts 60 runs ahead at the close, with eight wickets intact, it will take a big first hour even bigger than the biggest first hour Andrew Gale has ever demanded to throw this game back in Yorkshire's favour.
Lumb's cautious 45 in the first innings was his highest Championship score in a lean season; his discipline was again to the fore as he finished the third evening unbeaten on 43. He is a more measured performer than he was in his salad days at Headingley when Yorkshire viewed him as a chancy four-day player and never entirely cottoned on to his potential in the shorter formats.
The wickets of Alex Hales and Phil Jaques before tea had encouraged Yorkshire optimism before the rain clouds rolled in. Hales had a brainstorm, shouldering arms at Tim Bresnan; Jaques was dislodged by an excellent delivery that bounced a bit from Steven Patterson. But Morley Town Hall has disappeared from the horizon with wearying regularity and more rain washed the energy from the game. It does not do for Listed Buildings to disappear from the horizon so often, especially when there is a Championship at stake.
In the enlightened world of Jason Gillespie, Yorkshire are more prepared to quicken the pace with bat or ball when weather robs time from a game. Never mind the downcast approach of "we can only control the controllables". Good sides play positively and seek to win the game in less time. But this game has already lost 118 overs in the first three days and, even though the pitch has encouraged the bowlers throughout, it would need some careless cricket to bring about a positive result.
There was a time when Yorkshire, 129 behind at the start of the third day with eight wickets remaining, would have borne their responsibilities gravely. The scoreboard would not have been considered until tea and, with luck, they might have edged ahead.
This Yorkshire side has riskier ambitions and on this occasion the risk did not pay off as they lost four wickets in the first hour to be 128 for 6. But Aaron Finch, playing responsibly at No. 6, and Bresnan steadied matters with a couple of 40s, and Richard Pyrah's 45 was the sprightliest of all, at virtually a run a ball. Although Pyrah's demise, slog sweeping Samit Patel, was careless, Yorkshire had a useful lead of 42.
If Finch had read the media assessment of England's first Test squad, he might easily have assumed that Patel's left-arm slows lacked venom, only for Patel to turn his third ball sharply to hit off stump. Finch, a master blaster, tried to block; Patel, a roller, turned it square. Moral of the story: stereotypes only tell part of the story. Patel finished off Yorkshire's innings with 3 for 13.
Finch famously battered The Point at Old Trafford during the Roses T20 but Headingley was never in any danger of a bill for structural damage and, in the Long Room, Dickie Bird, their president and mood uplifter, was able to promote another collection of reminiscences without fears about his safety.
The number of books centred around the World's Most Famous Test Umpire (retd) are nearing double figures, but he has yet to tell the story in print, sadly, of how his statue in the centre of Barnsley has had to be raised five feet because rowdy teenagers liked to slip condoms on to his outstretched index finger. You could have argued that it served a useful function by promoting safe sex, but that is not how the council saw it.
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