Yorkshire v Lancashire, Headingley, 1st day May 30, 2008

Yorkshire fight in tough conditions

John Ward

Yorkshire 306 for 7 (Rudolph 66, Brophy 59, Mahmood 4-61) v Lancashire

Sajid Mahmood was the pick of Lancashire's bowlers, but the others didn't offer great support © PA Photos
Yorkshire, handed a lemon at start of play when they were sent in to bat under dull skies, made perhaps most of a jug of lemonade out of it. They did quite well to pass 300 with three wickets still in hand, but even so a number of their batsmen made a good start before losing their wickets when they should have been well set for greater deeds.

Lancashire won the toss, as they had done on Wednesday in the FP Trophy, but wild horses probably wouldn't have persuaded them to bat first again in similar conditions: a gloomy overcast sky promising movement in the air and threatening rain at any moment. So, they gratefully put the home side in, and for some time were able to put them under severe pressure.

An opening batsman's lot is not a happy one in such circumstances, as Joe Sayers discovered, had he not been aware of it before. Sajid Mahmood gave him a torturous time, including two strong appeals for lbw, before winning the third decision from the umpire in his second over, off a full-length delivery, without a run on the board.

His opening partner, Adam Lyth, fought with great determination, in company with the watchful but more aggressive Anthony McGrath. He played a Gower-like cover drive to reach double figures and it was a disappointment when, after just over an hour at the crease, and having done most of the hard work, he was strangled down the leg side off Mahmood. Opposite Mahmood was Dominic Cork, finally back from injury, and bowling well without earning a wicket. One or two of his appeals, though, marked him down as another possible candidate for Strictly Come Dancing.

Jacques Rudolph joined McGrath and, with conditions somewhat eased, they put together a useful stand, with Rudolph particularly adept in forcing the ball through the off-side field off the back foot. Very soon after lunch, though, McGrath played a loose stroke outside the off stump and was caught at the wicket off the returning Mahmood for 45.

Andrew Gale, once settled, impressed with two consecutive off-side boundaries off Cork, and the pair added 77 before both were out in quick succession. Rudolph, pushing forward, was caught at the wicket for 66, while Gale played a poor shot, slicing a drive to backward point for 32. Adil Rashid survived a confident appeal for a catch at the wicket second ball, and this proved to be a crucial decision, one way or the other; had he gone, Yorkshire would have been in serious trouble at 177 for 6.

As it was, after tea he settled down with Gerard Brophy to put on 79 in a crucial partnership. Brophy, especially, played some risky strokes early on, but he survived and reached his 50 off 66 balls. Finally he edged Mahmood, again, to the keeper, departing for 59 to leave Yorkshire on 256 for 6.

Rashid continued to bat impressively, bursting forth every now and then with a fine stroke, especially the cut to beat backward point, and is in danger of becoming a batting rather than a bowling all-rounder. He made 43 in confident, perky style before pushing forward to Gary Keedy and providing wicketkeeper Luke Sutton with his fifth catch of the day.

Tim Bresnan made a rather shaky start but hung on well to fight another day, while Richard Pyrah faced seven balls and hit a single and two fours off Steven Croft. Mahmood, with four wickets, was the best bowler of the day, but the supporting seamers were rather insipid and a couple of chances went down.

At the end of the second day, when Lancashire have performed with the bat, it should be possible to tell just how full Yorkshire managed to fill their jug. A crowd of over a thousand throughout the day shows that a Roses championship match, on a weekday and in discouraging weather, still holds some magic for the Yorkshire public.