Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire, Trent Bridge, 2nd day September 10, 2014

Yorkshire hit weary Notts were it hurts

Nottinghamshire 58 for 4 trail Yorkshire 532 for 9 dec (Lyth 122, Ballance 99, Bresnan 95, Lees 86, Keedy 5-163) by 474 runs
Scorecard

There has been much talk about 'funky' captaincy and tactics in recent months but, more often than not, cricket remains a simple game.

Here, by virtue of scoreboard pressure and occupation of the crease, Yorkshire took a firm grip on this match and, with it, the County Championship title. It will be no surprise if they have it wrapped up within the next couple of days.

It was not always pretty, it was not often exciting but, the Yorkshire team that arrived at Trent Bridge determined to win a trophy, have gone a long way towards doing that at the halfway stage of the game.

Their tactics? To keep Nottinghamshire out in the field for as long as possible. To tire them physically and deflate them mentally. To extend their first innings to the point where defeat was all but impossible and then attack a side that knew their hopes had gone.

It worked beautifully. After keeping Nottinghamshire in the field for the best part of 11 hours - 174.2 overs - and amassing their fourth score in excess of 500 in the campaign, Yorkshire's bowlers cut through the Nottinghamshire top-order in a spell that saw four batsmen - three of them international players - dismissed in the space of 22 balls.

It is important to appreciate the context in which this game has been played. Yorkshire went into it with a cushion of 26 points over Nottinghamshire and knowing that it was their rivals who had to chase the game. While Yorkshire could, mathematically, draw this game and still be pipped by Warwickshire in the final round, they do not have to gamble. Their cricket was hard, professional and uncompromising. It was exactly how the County Championship should be played.

"It was a case of grinding them into the dirt," Tim Bresnan, who recorded his highest first-class score since June 2009, said afterwards. "We wanted to keep them out there as long as possible and score as many as possible.

"We know ourselves that, when you've been out there for a day-and-a-half, it is really difficult. You saw from James Taylor's shot that he was a bit tired and you may see some lapse of concentration tomorrow. We played the way we should have played on quite an attritional wicket. It will be difficult for us to lose from this position."

It is true that Nottinghamshire look a tired, dispirited team. Not so long ago, they were involved in the race for all three trophies but, after a couple of dropped catches and a couple of great innings (from James Vince in the NatWest T20 and Ben Stokes in the Royal London Cup, both of whom were dropped early) ended their limited-overs ambitions, they have seen their last hopes of Championship success slip away.

Again, here, they can reflect that their catching let them down. Had Adam Lyth and Alex Lees been taken early in their innings, even this game might have taken a different course. Now, with Warwickshire well on top against Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire have a fight to retain second place.

Yorkshire's strong position in this game has been established by their batsmen. While Gary Ballance was unable to convert his excellent first day performance into a century - it took him 47 balls to add 17 runs in the morning - Bresnan and Adil Rashid ensured Nottinghamshire were not going to be allowed back into the game.

If Rashid produced the most free-flowing batting of the day, Bresnan showed admirable determination. His half-century occupied an eye-watering 121 deliveries but, when the order came to accelerate, he produced a series of flowing drives before clipping one to midwicket. It is now seven years since he scored a first-class century - he made three in 2007 - though he might point out that he did make 100 in an Ashes warm-up game against Essex last year only to later see its status downgraded from first-class.

"It's not about personal landmarks," Bresnan said. "It's about contributing to the team. And the 190 balls I was out there were probably as important as the 95 runs. I've loved every minute of playing for Yorkshire this summer and winning a Championship title would be right up there."

The one bowler who remained a threat throughout the Yorkshire innings was Gary Keedy. The 39-year-old earned the 35th five-wicket haul of a career that had seemed to be over as his reward for 50 overs of toil. He may be slow and he may, by his high standards, not quite have the same control of his prime, but there are still few better spinners in the English game. Certainly his bowling carried far from threat than Samit Patel's.

Nottinghamshire's reply was soon in disarray. If Alex Hales, the victim of a beauty that demanded a stroke and straightened, had no reason to chastise himself for his dismissal, some of his colleagues will reflect far more ruefully. Taylor, in particular, who slashed at a wide one, might consider his stroke reckless, while Steven Mullaney, who steered a wide one to slip, was little better. Patel, caught on the crease, edged a decent one.

Taylor, especially, might be relieved that Peter Moores and James Whitaker, here for a meeting with Paul Farbrace (but, oddly, not Mick Newell), had already departed before his dismissal. It would not have impressed them.

Yorkshire's bowlers looked far more potent than their Nottinghamshire counterparts. Jack Brooks, the highest wicket-taker in the division, bowls a sharp pace and demands a stroke more than most, while Ryan Sidebottom, despite his lessening pace, remains a highly effective swing bowler. With the title within their sight, they will prove a tough proposition of day three.

While Michael Lumb and Riki Wessels steered Nottinghamshire to the close without further loss, the follow-on mark of 383 still looks mighty distant.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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