Yorkshire flounder to Sreesanth
Yorkshire 100 for 7 (Sreesanth 4-36) trail Warwickshire 320 (Ambrose 116, Carter 67, Shahzad 4-78) by 220 runs
Overnight the fickle English climate changed from darkest November to most brilliant August in Scarborough, and the sun shone on everybody - except, perhaps, the equally fickle Yorkshire team. "How to throw away a match in three easy sessions" might be a useful handbook for the home team to publish at the end of this season, as they have made rather a habit of wasting good positions during the last couple of years. On this particular day they excelled themselves; poor bowling and fielding allowing Warwickshire to pass 300, with Tim Ambrose outstanding, and then collapsing dismally against some good but not overwhelming bowling, spearheaded by Sreesanth. From start to finish, it was Warwickshire's day, and one of their best in a season of struggle for them.
The abrupt arrival of the sun attracted a crowd of 4,188, virtually all no doubt eager to see Yorkshire continue the form that had reduced Warwickshire to 53 for 4 overnight. But the visitors handled the unfamiliar weather conditions better than the home side. The Yorkshire seamers bowled too short and often wide as well, and Ambrose in particular enjoyed himself, aided by Tony Frost. The ground was fast and the ball flew regularly to the boundary, mainly from the cuts, pulls and cover drives of Ambrose. The Yorkshire fielding was also lacking: Ambrose at 22 escaped a difficult return chance to Ajmal Shahzad, and several misfields aided the scoring rate.
Frost was rather unluckily bowled for 35, off his bat and pads as he swept at a leg-side ball from David Wainwright. Rikki Clarke came out with aggression, getting off the mark by hitting the same bowler for six over long-on. He fell for 22 just before lunch, though, caught at the wicket as he aimed to cut Wainwright.
Ambrose continued to take centre stage, reaching his 50 off 58 balls and his century off 123; the latter landmark came with a snick that flew by the vacant second-slip position. Neil Carter proved to be his best partner, a man who showed aggression from the start but tempered it wisely. He hit the inaccurate Wainwright for three successive fours, and reached his 50 off only 40 balls with a slash wide of extra cover.
Ambrose had 113 to his credit when he finally whipped a sharp catch to midwicket, where McGrath took it neatly left-handed. He had faced 150 balls and hit 21 fours, while the partnership added 110. Carter drove a ball to mid-off to depart for 67 and the last four wickets fell for 32 runs, although the last pair proved stubborn until a fierce yorker from Shahzad shattered Naqaash Tahir's stumps. None of the Yorkshire bowlers particularly distinguished themselves on the second day, although Shahzad finished with four wickets.
Yorkshire, facing 320, were let down badly once again by their fragile top order. Sreesanth bowled the opening over of the innings, and his first ball was a gentle long hop that Jacques Rudolph nevertheless managed to pop up into the gully. Off the fifth ball McGrath tried too late to withdraw his bat and was caught by the keeper, and two former Test men had ignominiously departed without a run on the board.
Andrew Gale's positive approach was praiseworthy, but his manner of execution was dubious. He scored Yorkshire's first runs with a stylish off-drive for four, and then sliced a ball uppishly past gully. He hit Sreesanth for three successive boundaries, two cuts and a leg-glance, but he also played and missed on numerous occasions, especially when the Indian gave way to Carter, who swung the ball prodigiously at times but with little luck. It was too good to last, and his rather frenetic innings ended at 23 when he clipped a catch to short midwicket. Joe Sayers pushed a catch to short mid-off for 21, and Jonny Bairstow was caught at first slip after a laborious 4 off 26 balls. Yorkshire were 62 for 5, and it should have been worse, as Gerard Brophy was dropped in the gully when he had scored 2.
This was the sort of situation where Yorkshire have been rescued frequently by their all-rounders - only two of their main fighters, Tim Bresnan and Adil Rashid, are currently in the England squad. Shahzad fell for 13 and Richard Pyrah for 0, both caught in the slips off the returning Sreesanth, just before the close, leaving Brophy, who batted so well in the Roses match, as their one hope of redeeming anything from their dismal innings.
A further 71 runs are needed to avoid the possibility of the follow-on with three wickets left. The talent is still there to do so, but what of the will and spirit? Yorkshire may not be able to match Durham for talent at present, but it will be a travesty if they are relegated to the second division next year. The wounds are self-inflicted and the reasons for them need much careful investigation. Meanwhile, the tragedy of Yorkshire cricket continues.