Drab end shows need for change
Hampshire 351 (Lumb 81, Adams 51, Shahzad 4-71) and 284 for 3 (Adams 72, Benham 67*, Lumb 64) drew with Yorkshire 348 (Sayers 95, Rudolph 68, Bairstwo 50*)
Lancashire's victory over Warwickshire yesterday meant that neither side had any prize money to play for, and the consequence was perhaps the most pointless - both literally and figuratively - day's play of the Championship season just ending. A draw had been almost inevitable before play started, with Hampshire on 41 without loss in their second innings, unless Yorkshire could roll the visitors over quickly and knock off the runs needed to win. On a somnolent pitch and with a rare day of unbroken sunshine, nobody considered this as a serious possibility.
Jimmy Adams and Liam Dawson moved on to a century opening partnership without great difficulty, though frustrated at times by some very smart Yorkshire fielding. Adams reached his 50, off 107 balls, with a four to third man, and off the very next ball delivered, in a new over from Deon Kruis, Dawson miscued a hook and Ajmal Shahzad took a fine running and diving catch towards long leg. The pair had put on 105 for the first wicket, to add to their 95-run partnership in the first innings.
Adams made 72, surprisingly offering no stroke to a ball from David Wainwright that came in to hit his off stump. He had batted quite attractively, with strokes all round the wicket. Next came a long partnership between Michael Lumb and Chris Benham, who seemed happy to take a long 'middle practice' without attempting to force the pace. Lumb was particularly laborious, and when Benham reached 50 off 113 balls, he still had 35 off 146. He then had a burst of energy to reach his own 50 off 158, before returning to passivity.
Adam Lyth, bowling tidy offbreaks with occasional quicker balls, but not a regular bowler, was able to concede fewer than two runs an over for most of his long outing with the ball. He was frustrated by the umpires' refusal to grant him several close lbw decisions, but he finally removed Lumb, who jabbed at a ball outside his off stump and was caught by Gerard Brophy for 64, off 192 balls. Brophy on this occasion was fielding at slip, Jonny Bairstow having taken over the wicketkeeping gloves after tea.
Sean Ervine provided the crowd with their best entertainment of the day, quickly hitting Kruis for three boundaries and then ruining Lyth's figures with a six over long-on. Kruis ended his Yorkshire career with a maiden over to Benham, who finished with 67 not out, and the match ended with Brophy calming Ervine (18 not out) with a maiden over.
There are too many matches like this in the modern Championship, where the teams enter the final day with a draw almost certain. We don't want a return to the bad old days of manufactured finishes, but there needs to be a system with more emphasis on winning a match by bowling a side out twice, and less emphasis on bonus points.
Needless to say, we also need pitches that will give more assistance to the bowlers - and that especially includes the spinner. This was Yorkshire's twelfth draw in sixteen championship matches this season, and statistics like that should persuade the ECB that the system needs a change. Despite this, there have been some excellent crowds at Championship matches this season, and there were a few hundred at Headingley today who stayed till the bitter end.