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Jon Culley at Headingley
July 7, 2010
Warwickshire 253 and 193 for 3 lead Yorkshire 425 by 21 runs with 7 wickets remaining
Yorkshire cannot count themselves as clear favourites to win the Championship just yet, given that likeliest rivals Nottinghamshire have played two fewer matches. A victory here, however, will put daylight between them and the Trent Bridge side and anything less will be regarded as an opportunity missed.
They do not lack for motivation these days, captain Andrew Gale having seemingly inspired in them a powerful self-belief, but news of defeat for Nottinghamshire at Chelmsford can only have spurred them on and they will be anxious to press home their advantage as they begin to visualise only a second title in 43 years.
A win here will put Yorkshire 21 points clear and they must still play Nottinghamshire twice, at Headingley in August and at Trent Bridge - in the penultimate round - in September, which will be a fixture for the diary if the prize is still up for grabs.
They should not squander their chance in this match, although Warwickshire are not out of it yet. Following on, they have an advantage of 21 runs but are only three wickets down. Shows of resilience have not characterised their batting on many occasions this season but they have found some here.
Much of it has come from Rikki Clarke, whose unbeaten 46 batting at number seven in the first innings gained his side a rare second batting point, seeing them to 253, which was only 22 short of avoiding the follow-on.
Given that he was dropped twice earlier in the day, he has done a better job still. Promoted to four, he has not offered a chance so far and he and Ateeq Javid, the England under-19 batsman, have put on 64 since Jim Troughton retired hurt at 129 for 3.
Javid, who looked a questionable selection in the light of Warwickshire's plight and his lack of experience, revealed some character himself, standing up well in particular to Tino Best, who appeared intent on intimidating the youngster verbally as well as physically but succeeded on neither count.
On the other hand, Best left Troughton literally battered and bruised. The Warwickshire batsman took a blow on the helmet from a short ball from the West Indian that brought up a sizeable bump above his left eye. He will bat again, although the swelling must subside enough first to allow him to pull on his headgear again.
Warwickshire had resumed their first innings at 221 for 7 in reply to Yorkshire's 425. Steve Patterson, increasingly the steady and reliable member of Yorkshire's seam attack, took their last three wickets, although Adil Rashid should have had a couple of them. Having failed to hold a sharp, low return catch offered by Neil Carter on 13, the leg spinner saw the same batsman missed at short leg two balls later.
Then Clarke, when he had reached 36, hit him straight to mid-wicket, where Jonathan Bairstow's usually reliable hands let him down.
Patterson cashed in. He had Neil Carter caught by Best at mid-off and Imran Tahir one-handed, by Richard Pyrah at backward point, a spectacular effort by a fine fielder. A full delivery into the pads of Boyd Rankin finished the innings, giving him figures of 4 for 57.
Rashid, who ended the first innings with 4 for 71, has taken all three so far in the second innings, lifting his tally for the season in first-class matches to 40, six behind Warwickshire's leg spinner, Tahir.
Darren Maddy played all around a googly, then Ant Botha was caught behind by a diving Gerard Brophy. Ian Westwood, the Warwickshire captain, who had put on 56 with Botha for the second wicket in a stand that set the tone for what was required from his struggling team, was dismayed to be given out leg before in Rashid's next over. The impression from the boundary was that the ball was missing leg stump but umpire Jeremy Lloyds, in a better place to judge, saw it differently.
Troughton, who gave a half-chance to short leg off Rashid on 10, had treatment on the field for several minutes after taking a swing and a miss at a ball that reared up. Best offered apologies but soothing words were not enough to stop the swelling.
Warwickshire might have lost heart. Instead, Javid and Clarke, who loosened his arms with a six off Rashid and another off Azeem Rafiq, the off-spinner, stood firm and no more wickets were lost between tea and a rain shower that ended proceedings with 10 overs lost.
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