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John Ward at Headingley
May 26, 2008
Yorkshire 245 for 3 (McGrath 105*) beat Scotland 244 (Smith 60, Gough 3-40) by seven wickets
It is 130 years since Scotland first played in Yorkshire and, finding the White Rose distinctly less hospitable than the Red, have yet to win a match there. They put up a bonnie fight for much of today as they sought to make history, but superb Yorkshire batting, by Anthony McGrath in particular, was too much for them and they went down with honour.
Scotland won the toss and decided to bat, under intermittent sunshine amid light cloud, on a pitch with a tinge of green in it. They chose wisely, as they ran up the highest total made against Yorkshire in this competition so far this year. In fact, the way their top order went about the job on this occasion would do credit to most county sides, perhaps the only recognisable difference being the greater proportion of leg-side slogs, as opposed to the usually more correct play of the professionals. But, lest this be considered condescending, it must be said that many of them were very effective.
They were confident from the start, with Ryan Watson the leading protagonist; he began with a powerful four over the covers off the first over, bowled by Tim Bresnan, which yielded eight runs altogether. Yorkshire did not bowl impressively, and too many deliveries fed Watson's favourite pull and slog shots. The 50 came up in the 11th over, and he put on 90 for the first wicket with the former Yorkshire all-rounder Gavin Hamilton before Darren Gough got a ball to keep low and whip in off the pitch, bowling him out for 54.
Hamilton had rather less of the bowling, but finished with 34 off 44 balls. His most memorable strokes were his handsome drives through the covers. Fraser Watts played some powerful strokes in his 34, hitting a superb straight six off Anthony McGrath, but next ball he hit across the line and was lbw. For a while he overshadowed the less flamboyant Colin Smith, but the latter went on to make 60 off 70 balls.
Scotland should have done better than 244, given such a good showing by their top order, but their lower order failed badly at the death, the last four wickets tumbling for just nine runs. Some sloppy fielding did not help Yorkshire's cause, and most of their bowling was rather innocuous, with Gough (3 for 40) the best of them, followed by the legspinner, Adil Rashid, with 2 for 36.
Yorkshire have been inconsistent lately, and there was no guarantee that they would achieve their target. Unfortunately for Scotland, their bowling was unable to make the impact of their batting. They did not begin too badly, having Craig White (3) caught at midwicket off Dewald Nel, who also trapped Andrew Gale lbw hitting across a full toss, for 33.
But that was where the match ended for Scotland. McGrath can hardly have batted better; he was the master from the moment he arrived at the crease. He got off to a flier, scoring off almost every delivery without ever seeming to exert himself as he reached 30 off 15 balls, mostly in ones and twos. Jacques Rudolph at the other end was not far behind him, and the pair worked the ball around the field to score deceptively quickly.
McGrath reached his 50 off 48 balls; Rudolph took 78, but as the target grew closer, they seemed to be in a race for a century. Rudolph, in a flurry of boundaries, raced to 82 and then skied a catch to mid-off, leaving the field clear for McGrath. He duly reached three figures with time to spare - 97 balls and 15 fours - to finish unbeaten with 105, and Yorkshire won with almost ten overs to spare.
For Scotland, Nel finished with two wickets for 53 runs off his eight overs, but only Watson (five overs for 23 runs) could be said to have escaped serious punishment. Yet the team emerged with credit, having dominated the early part of the match and done well enough to ensure a game that entertained a perhaps disappointing Bank Holiday crowd. They will try again next year, no doubt, to obtain that elusive first victory in Yorkshire.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Both teams face contrasting opponents in their next Test series. While West Indies will be tested against stronger teams, Bangladesh have it easier but without much to gain