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Jon Culley at Old Trafford
July 1, 2010
Yorkshire 447 and 215 for 7 drew with Lancashire 358 and 192 for 7
Steven Croft enhanced his reputation as a batsman with a defiant unbeaten 85 spanning three hours as Lancashire battled to what may prove to be an important draw here, the result denying Yorkshire an opportunity to go 14 points clear of Nottinghamshire at the top of the Championship.
Instead, the White Rose county lead by one, which is good news for their rivals from Trent Bridge, who have played two matches fewer, but also for Lancashire, who are one fixture behind and only eight points in arrears. Having been in a strong position when the sides met at Headingley a month ago only for rain to intervene, defeat this time would have been hard to take.
In the event, rain played a part again, although thankfully not to the extent early forecasts had suggested. Yet two interruptions after tea, costing 11 overs, may have proved decisive. Certainly, they benefited Lancashire's rearguard action as Yorkshire packed the in-field, with the ball turning enough for Adil Rashid and Azeem Rafiq to make batting a stiff test.
Croft, Glen Chapple and then Kyle Hogg found themselves charged with securing Lancashire's survival after the final hour began with Yorkshire needing four more wickets. They did so with six or seven close fielders around the bat at all times, in addition to wicketkeeper Gerard Brophy, as Rashid and Rafiq sought a way through. In the end, though, Chapple was the only casualty and Croft, who has caught the eye more regularly as an aggressive batsman with a penchant for spectacular hitting, played the two spinners superbly, never offering a single, identifiable chance.
As it happens, a draw had looked the likeliest out come all along, after Yorkshire had seemed to score too slowly in the morning session to set up a run chase that would give them enough time to bowl the home side out.
Caution from stand-in captain Jacques Rudolph was understandable. While he has skippered South Africa A and the Titans successfully, his record when asked to lead Yorkshire has been dreadful. He has led the side eight times in three seasons - twice in the Championship, twice in 40-over matches and three times in Twenty20 - and until yesterday he had lost every game, an extraordinary record that, of course, includes a gamble that backfired when Somerset were given a run chase at Taunton in May in Yorkshire's only defeat in the Championship to date.
Here, Yorkshire declared at lunch at 215 for 7, giving Lancashire a target of 305. But with only 68 overs left in the day, the odds seemed always to favour the batting side if survival became the objective.
Yorkshire had lost their key man when Anthony McGrath was leg before as left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan straightened one up on him. Then Gerard Brophy chipped to short extra cover off Daren Powell and Kerrigan slipped one under Pyrah's attempted pull. Tino Best was stumped, aiming an agricultural heave at the same bowler, who finished with 4 for 77. Only Rashid, unbeaten for 42, succeeded in pushing along the score without mishap.
Any hope Lancashire entertained of scoring the runs effectively disappeared in an erratic opening spell by Tino Best, win which the West Indian pace bowler sent many balls down the leg side but also yorked Stephen Moore, had Simon Katich caught at third slip and dismissed Paul Horton leg before.
Steve Patterson had Mark Chilton lbw before the first stoppage, which cost 10 overs. Yorkshire's eagerness to get back out saw their players massed at the boundary rope more than five minutes before the restart time announced over the public address, prompting the umpires to join them and insist that Lancashire's batsmen wasted no further precious moments.
Steve Patterson had ousted Mark Chilton, who was lbw before the stoppage. Rudolph had turned to the less experienced Rafiq, the off-spinner, first but it was Rashid who made the breakthrough, dismissing Tom Smith, who was well taken by Brophy, and then Luke Sutton, caught off the bat at short leg, in the space of three balls.
With that, Yorkshire's urgency increased still further. They deployed their 12th man and their conditioning coach as ball boys to ensure that balls hit for four were returned swiftly and a tense final hour that ultimately stretched to almost 23 overs must have seemed like an age to the batsmen.
But though a fine, running catch at mid-on by Best accounted for Chapple, there were no further incursions for Yorkshire. Croft maintained his concentration in the face of 174 deliveries in total, and Hogg, who batted back 33 balls before he played a scoring shot, did a sound job in support.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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