Yardy finishes in style with vital farewell century
Somerset 114 for 2 trail Sussex 409 (Yardy 104, Zaidi 91, Joyce 83, Trego 3-72) by 295 runs
Michael Yardy's final white-ball appearance at Hove could not have gone much worse. David Willey's onslaught in the NatWest Blast quarter-final meant he came within a few feet of the indignity of joining a club created by Malcolm Nash 47 years ago. A lucky escape, but you fancy 34 from the over amid a thrashing felt bad enough.
His final Championship game here will be remembered far more fondly. Tuesday saw him add an emotional, fluent 40 to Monday's doughty, important 60 before promptly getting out, his century achieved and job done, having taken Sussex past four vital bonus points, which Chris Jordan would turn into five not long after.
Yardy's was a necessary knock and Hove, to a man, stood in applause. When he fell for 104, pulling Peter Trego directly to deep backward square, the place fell silent before rising in applause once more, as Somerset players came over to shake his hand. By Yardy's standards, the response was emotional, a violent bat wave to mark the century, and a point to all corners on the slow walk back.
Over 16 years, Yardy had earned the right to be a tad teary. Little wonder a number of Sussex folk were emotional, too. Yardy has a mighty cricketing CV. He provides the last link to Sussex's first ever Championship winners in 2003, and has won the title twice more, in 2006 (when they also won the 50-over trophy) and 2007. In 2009, he captained the club to a limited overs double.
To say Yardy's career has merely "coincided" a golden period for his county does him a gross injustice; his centrality, as player and bloke, cannot be overestimated. Likewise, few will forget his role in England's World T20 triumph of 2010. He retires as one of just 11 Englishman to have won the final of an ICC event.
You read this plenty but Yardy really is one of the good guys; just a normal guy. Softly spoken and kind faced, his dreams, it seems, were always about playing cricket for Sussex. He admitted to being nervous before play, emotional when he reached his century and when he says he will miss his team-mates most, you believe him.
The moment, he said, was "very much up there," in his career highlights, and "very, very special. I will cherish it in the future when I'm not playing cricket…. It's a funny one because somebody just said how great it was to do that, and then you think after what happened in the T20 I was due a little bit!"
Of the celebrations, he said bashfully: "That's not really me. There was emotion there and I probably welled up a little bit. It meant a lot. When you're 60 not out coming into your final innings at Hove, you know what you want and the goal is very clear. It was nice to get there."
Yardy has looked a man liberated since announcing his retirement in mid-July. Since then, he has visibly shifted some timber and relocated his smile. It is telling in his cricket; in fact he bows out with centuries in both his final two Championship games at Hove and even had to laugh off suggestions that his decision should be reversed.
He lost the chancier Ashar Zaidi to Jamie Overton's first ball of a day delayed by overnight rain, but was quickly away with a wristily pulled four. The double trigger and mighty crab were as exaggerated and the striking as clean as ever, but his nerves told with some slightly hare-brained running.
He moved into the 80s with a straight drive, followed it with another four through mid-on, and into the 90s with a controlled edge to the third man fence. A beautiful cover drive then a dab to fine leg brought up the milestone at a canter.
"I've played here all my life, from the age of 11," Yardy said, "and even during that time I've loved watching the guys play here. It was always something I aspired to as a young kid: like everyone who plays county cricket, you aspire to play for your home county. It's a bit sad that it's coming to an end but nice to finish in a nice way."
After one Jordan heave-ho too many (Luke Ronchi did well to take a swirling skier), Somerset's response was unfussy until a hefty band of rain came at 4.45. Tom Abell was wonderfully wristy but played on to a Jordan wide one and Tom Cooper flew out of the blocks before nicking through to Ben Brown.
At the other end Marcus Trescothick was undefeated, and - considering the manner in which their England careers ended and the esteem they are held at their respective counties - comparisons with Yardy do not take much finding.
After both Yardy's moments, the third-loudest cheer of the day came with another Trescothick dab to third man for four to bring up his 50. He was typically strong in that area, and brutal on that trademark tiny-stepped drive.
With rain forecast on Wednesday, this vital match's value is likely to be seen in bonus points. Both teams to took full allocation in the first round; if the Somerset are to get full allocation in the second, Trescothick must stay put.