Yousuf double-century confirms draw
Lancashire 481 for 5 dec (Yousuf 205*, Horton 152) drew with Yorkshire 395 (Rudolph 66, Bresnan 64*, Mahmood 4-89)
Predictably, the loss of the entire third day's play to rain condemned this match to a draw, and a rather dreary one Lancashire made of it, too. Roses matches do not lend themselves to contrived finishes, and there was little the players could do to give the match any meaning beyond the acquisition of bonus points - except that Lancashire might have looked to score a little more enterprisingly than they did.
The chief culprit, if he could be described as such, was the Pakistani batsman Mohammad Yousuf, who began the day needing seven more runs to reach his first century for Lancashire. Play started on time on a dry but cloudy day, and it took Yousuf 36 minutes to move from 93 to 100, which came off 189 balls. Eventually he gratefully accepted a full toss from Richard Pyrah and hit it to the point boundary for four.
His overnight partner, Paul Horton, had already passed 150, but on 152 he appeared to take his eye off a shorter, faster ball from Adil Rashid and had his middle stump knocked back. The two had put on 258 runs together, which equalled the Lancashire record for any partnership against Yorkshire, compiled by Horton himself and Stuart Law in the same fixture last year.
Harry Makepeace might have smiled down in pleasure as Yousuf ground his way to a double-century, which, in the traditional spirit of Roses cricket, took him most of the day and included 36 runs off 85 balls before lunch. Perhaps this is an ungracious and exaggerated criticism of an innings of great concentration and application, scored at better than three an over - but having said that, a draw was certain and he showed few of the magnificent strokes of which he is capable. Yorkshire paid a heavy price for dropping him early in his innings, and he was dropped again on 168 by a sprinting substitute fielder from mid-off. He did see his team through to its fifth batting point, their only real objective of the day, but the real flair of the man rarely showed through.
More understandable was Steven Croft's efforts to score his maiden century. He began with some panache and played some handsome strokes through the covers especially, but slowed almost to a halt as he approached three figures, having already shared with his partner a record fifth-wicket stand of 197 for Lancashire against Yorkshire (beating 136 by Frank Hayes and Bernard Reidy in 1980). In particular, he struggled against the spin of Rashid, who eventually claimed his wicket for 96.
Yorkshire's bowling resources suffered considerably from the loss of their captain, Darren Gough, suffering from "stiffness and niggles". Tim Bresnan bowled superbly at times, frequently beating the bat, but he was denied the luck he deserved. Rashid was grateful for the reluctance of the batsmen to dominate him, and was able to toss the ball high with impunity, experimenting with spin and his googly; he had a good workout of 46 overs for 133 runs and his two wickets. None of the other bowlers looked threatening, although Ben Sanderson claimed his first wicket in first-class cricket, having the unfortunate No. 5, 'Faf' du Plessis, who had to wait a very long time to get to the crease, caught at slip without scoring.
After Lancashire reached 400, it was just a matter of time, and the teams - and umpire Peter Willey, apparently - were so keen to call it a day that the declaration came after Jacques Rudolph, captaining Yorkshire on the field, bowled just two balls of an over. Some individuals, mostly batsmen, will have good memories of this match, but by most it will soon be forgotten, its potential destroyed by a day of rain.