Cool Bresnan helps Yorkshire to tense win
Yorkshire 135 for 8 (Brophy 44, Marshall 3-11) beat Lancashire 131 for 6 (du Plessis 42, Bresnan 2-12) by 4 runs
It is often said that it is hard to judge a pitch until both sides have batted. There was nothing lethal in the Old Trafford surface; perhaps the problems were more in the minds of the batsmen when Yorkshire appeared to make a pig's ear of their batting, but in the end they managed to win by just four runs, the match again going down to the final ball. The batting by neither side was very good, but the close contest quite overshadowed an unsuccessful (save for a good catch) return by Andrew Flintoff.
Yorkshire decided to bat on winning the toss, but little good did it do them. The first over had the capacity 17,000 crowd roaring - Andrew Gale was run out third ball, a direct hit as he started for a run and then turned back, and Gerard Brophy only just got home as the batsmen ran through for a leg-bye. The second over also had a shock in store. Michael Vaughan, so good on Wednesday, had his feet set in concrete today as he slashed at his third ball, from Saj Mahmood, just outside off and dragged it on to his stumps. Yorkshire were 8 for 2.
Brophy was unfazed as he blazed away at the bowlers and after six overs Yorkshire had recovered to 49 for 2, with Brophy on 37. But then spinner Gary Keedy first applied the brake and then had Brophy caught at the wicket for 44, scored off 36 balls. Thereafter only Jacques Rudolph (23) was able to do much with the bowling, and despite some useful slogging in the final over, Yorkshire finished on 136 for 8, which did not really look adequate. Simon Marshall, coming on as fourth change, was the most successful bowler with 3 for 11 off three overs.
But Lancashire were also to suffer a sensational start to their innings. When Stuart Law (1) skied a ball from Tim Bresnan to midwicket, in marched the man the crowd had been waiting to see - Flintoff himself. He did not face his first ball until the following over, from Tim Bresnan - and was adjudged lbw first delivery, moving across his stumps and hitting across the line, although the ball might have just cleared the bails.
Worse was to come, when Mal Loye (17) was caught at the wicket off Matthew Hoggard, and after four overs Lancashire were 20 for 3. They found two men to steady the ship, though, in Francois du Plessis and Steven Croft, who kept the board ticking over with good running. The problem was, though, that they had difficulty in finding the boundary, and were always lagging behind Yorkshire's modest rate. The visitors bowled tightly and guarded their boundaries well, and the strain began to show.
After 16 overs, there was obviously a problem, as 93 on the board left 43 still needed from 24 deliveries. It was at this point that Croft (29), doing his best to accelerate, fell to a catch at long leg; next over, du Plessis (42) was caught at square leg, and Yorkshire's grip tightened further. A six by Kyle Hogg left 23 off two overs; he repeated the treatment to Gough, but had his stumps scattered next ball by the wily veteran and his 22 came off 9 balls.
The last over was entrusted to Bresnan, whose opening spell of three had cost just eight runs for his two vital wickets, and Lancashire needed 12. Four singles and a sliced boundary and Gareth Cross needed a six off the final delivery. But the bowler was too good, only a single was possible, and Yorkshire won their second Roses thriller in three days. Bresnan's 2 for 12 in four overs was crucial.