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John Ward at Headingley
September 23, 2009
Hampshire 227 for 4 (Lumb 72*, Pothas 4*) v Yorkshire
Despite the time of year, there was no end-of-season atmosphere at Headingley in the final match of the season. Over a thousand spectators turned out to watch and the players of both teams fought hard for supremacy. A fine unbeaten innings of 72 by the former Yorkshireman, Michael Lumb, was probably the most impressive individual feat of the day but, with the first session rather controversially lost to bad light, neither side could claim to have finished with a real advantage.
The morning was dry, but at the scheduled start of play the light was very dismal, and it was announced that play would not begin until it improved. Over the next hour it did so gradually, and soon everybody seemed to think it was fit for play - except the umpires, Nigel Cowley and Martin Bodenham. The spectators grew increasingly restive and vociferous, and there were a couple of angry altercations with the umpires and other officials. Finally an early lunch was announced and play started at one o'clock, when the light looked no different than it had more than an hour earlier. Once again, cricket's public relation skills were sadly missing and finicky umpires were responsible. When cricket is played late in September, it should be accepted that indifferent light is a regular natural hazard which needs to be endured at times.
Yorkshire put Hampshire in to bat when they won the toss, and there was speculation that this might be a tactical move. Yorkshire need six points from this match to make certain they will stay in the top division, and by bowling first they will be able to assess how many batting points they need to aim for. Victory therefore is perhaps a minor objective. Dion Kruis was given the honour of leading Yorkshire on to the field in his final match for the county, and it was a pleasant moment as he modestly raised his cap and acknowledged the crowd for the ovation they accorded him.
Jimmy Adams and Liam Dawson gave Hampshire a sound start against some good bowling by Matthew Hoggard, who swung the ball in his opening spell and beat the bat several times. They applied themselves with real determination, with Adams the more fluent to start with. Dawson started very slowly, but then began to open out with some attractive drives, hitting Hoggard for three fours in an over when he returned for a much less impressive second spell. But when David Wainwright came on, Dawson flicked him straight to midwicket to depart for 45; the opening stand realized 95.
Adams reached his fifty just before tea, off 104 balls, but didn't get going after the interval, playing on to Kruis for 51. Runs for a while almost dried up as Kruis and Wainwright bowled with accuracy and purpose to Lumb and Chris Benham, but the old axiom is that if you stay in, the runs will come. As the two stayed, the result was an intriguing battle between bat and ball. In the end, they added 42, and then Benham edged a ball from Ajmal Shahzad high into the slips, where Anthony McGrath pulled down a fine catch.
Sean Ervine got off the mark fortuitously, edging an involuntary boundary that just evaded the slips. But now runs began to come more freely, with Lumb looking to carry the attack to the bowlers, mainly by powerful driving. Another delectable cover drive, off Hoggard, took him to his half-century off 80 balls. Ervine played fluently from the start, and Hampshire were again in the ascendancy. But Yorkshire did not wilt, and Shahzad in particular bowled well without luck in the evening sun. But their efforts brought reward in the end, as Ervine flashed loosely outside the off stump, edging a ball from McGrath to the keeper.
For an 'occasional' bowler McGrath bowled some good deliveries and could well have secured more victims; his medium-pacers were deceptive and he even indulged in a few bouncers. But Yorkshire were unable to break through again, and the day finished well balanced, with every prospect of an intriguing battle ahead.
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