Yorks v Kent, County Championship, Scarborough, 1st day August 27, 2008

van Jaarsveld keeps Kent afloat

John Ward at Scarborough

Yorkshire 85 for 2 (McGrath 23*, Rudolph 28*) trail Kent 227 (van Jaarsveld 107) by 142 runs

Despite an heroic innings from Martin van Jaarsveld, he of the high backlift and stylish cover drive, Yorkshire had the better of the opening day of the Scarborough Festival. Their seam attack overwhelmed most of the Kent batsmen in the first two sessions and, despite losing their openers cheaply, they were batting solidly again by the close of play.

Michael Vaughan returned to the Yorkshire team for this match, slotted in as Andrew Gale's opening partner. He was not called on to fulfil this role for a few hours, though, as the Yorkshire captain Darren Gough won the toss in front of a crowd exceeding 2,000 and put Kent in to bat on a pitch with a greenish tinge, still containing considerable moisture.

Yorkshire was depending on their (on paper) strong seam bowling attack, even in the absence of Tim Bresnan, on England duty. The seamers found some swing and seam movement, though not excessive, right from the start. In the second over Joe Denly, with 5 to his credit, edged a difficult low chance off Deon Kruis to the left of Anthony McGrath at second slip, which went down, and Yorkshire were made to pay for this lapse; moments later, Denly edged Matthew Hoggard just over third slip to the boundary. Hoggard was moving the ball dangerously away from the bat, but the Kent batsmen kept the runs coming, some off the edge, as if afraid that their stay might not be long.

Sure enough, Rob Key was the first man to go, nudging a catch to the keeper off Kruis for 7, and was soon followed by a hesitant Neil Dexter (4), who edged the same bowler low to McGrath at second slip; 36 for 2. While van Jaarsveld settled in, Denly continued to go for his strokes, cutting Rana Naved for four to reach 50 off 61 balls, out of 77 for 2. But he got no further, beaten and lbw to Gough who moved the ball in to him off the pitch. He had been dropped again on 45 and got away with some flashy strokes, but in the context of Kent's innings it was a valuable one.

The rest of the innings belonged to van Jaarsveld, as not another batsman reached double figures. Naved was a weak link in the seam attack, bowling generally too short, and Yorkshire must at this stage be disappointed with their new acquisition after his return from lengthy injuries. But he did put one ball in the right place, getting one to move away and lift on Darren Stevens (1), who edged to McGrath in the slips. Apart from this, the Pakistani Test player conceded 53 runs in nine overs.

After lunch, Kent suffered further losses, with Geraint Jones caught behind from an indeterminate shot for 8, and Ryan McLaren run out without scoring, attempting an unlikely single to Adam Lyth in the covers, who scored a direct hit. But, at 108 for 6, van Jaarsveld now decided it was time he took charge. A poor over from Naved helped him to his fifty, off 86 balls, and then he welcomed Adil Rashid with a six into the pavilion over long-off and, next ball, drove him straight for a magnificent four. In the same over, James Tredcroft was dropped by Hoggard at mid-on, but then gave Gough another lbw decision, moving across his stumps and out for 9, having added 57 with van Jaarsveld.

Yorkshire could not keep the South African quiet; his partners did little more than hang around rather briefly while he fought his lone battle in fine style. He flicked Hoggard for six over midwicket with the greatest of ease, and then pulled a long hop from Rashid for four to reach his century off 133 balls. He was last out, an lbw victim to the deceptively innocuous-looking medium-pace of McGrath, for 107 off 139 balls, with 15 fours and two sixes. His ten team-mates scored just 95 between them. There were two wickets each for Hoggard, Kruis and Gough.

Kent were all out at tea for 227, but only when Yorkshire had batted on this pitch would it be possible to make a true assessment of that total. It was no picnic for the Yorkshire openers, either, with Amjad Khan in particular continually beating Gale outside the off stump. Vaughan on 1 gloved a ball down the leg side, and the wicketkeeper Jones just failed to reach a flying catch, the ball going for four; it could not be recorded so much as a miss as a narrow escape for the batsman. But Vaughan never settled in, and on 10 he chased a wide ball from Robbie Joseph, with little foot movement, and Jones took the catch in front of first slip, scarcely a stroke worthy of the former England captain.

Joseph, although inconsistent, struck again with the total at 37, trapping Gale flat-footed on the crease with an inswinger that kept slightly low, also for 10. McGrath dug in, but Jacques Rudolph batted fluently from the start. Kent had a chance of breaking through when McGrath, on 22, was dropped in the slips off McLaren, and so the pair survived to the close. Yorkshire statistically finished the day in a satisfactory position, with the local experts predicting a superb batting pitch on the second day - but the home side would do well not to count their chickens.