Head keeps his head, but Yorkshire lose more ground

Yorkshire 252 for 9 (Head 54, Barker 4-55) v Warwickshire

It feels like the business end of the season and from the point of view of Yorkshire supporters, accustomed as they have become to leading from the front, sixth place in the Division One table, 25 points behind the leaders, cannot look especially promising.

Yet Yorkshire themselves still think a third consecutive title is within their compass, reasoning that a game in hand on all those ahead of them, bar Durham, is a significant point in their favour. Four wins in their final seven matches, they reason, should be enough.

It seems a tall order. They could do with one of those wins being against their current opponents, given their relative points tally. A victory for Warwickshire would mean that Yorkshire have two teams beyond the reach of their game in hand. They are unbeaten in eight four-day matches against Ian Bell's team and three of their four wins have been by an innings, but there is no prospect of such an outcome this time.

It was just as well that Warwickshire, having had Yorkshire on the brink of a cheap dismissal at 204 for 9, have not been able to prise out the last wicket. Another 48 have been added so far, largely thanks to the enterprise of Steve Patterson and his eager accomplice, Ryan Sidebottom.

Warwickshire wanted to bat first and were denied when Andrew Gale won the toss but if this was an advantage Yorkshire did not make the most of it. The pitch is not without challenges but there were a few easy dismissals, and some solid starts not built upon.

Travis Head, Yorkshire's overseas player for the remainder of the season, played nicely and his half-century on Championship debut suggested he can be the all-round asset Jason Gillespie has backed him to become, yet even his innings ended disappointingly.

Having despatched Warwickshire's best bowler with some authority for two fours in three deliveries, the first hit with power through extra cover to complete his fifty off 78 balls, he cut the next ball straight to gully.

It was the second of four wickets for Keith Barker, the reliable left-armer, who edged ahead of Kyle Jarvis as the leading Division One wicket-taker with 41 dismissals. A feathered edge accounted for Gale, Jack Leaning pushed forward to one slanted across him and was taken at second slip and Jack Brooks, looking to cut, was bowled off the bottom edge.

Leaning's demise was a little tame, too, although in the context of his season his 42 was at least a step in the right direction. The 22-year-old batsman was one of the driving forces of Yorkshire's 2015 title win, hitting three hundreds and three other fifties and falling just short of a thousand runs in the season, yet he has struggled this year by comparison.

His 51 against Warwickshire at Edgbaston in April remains his highest score in 14 innings in the Championship, although he has shown some form against the white ball, including an unbeaten 131 - with five sixes - against Leicestershire in the Royal London One-Day Cup and 64 off 29 balls - again with five sixes - against Northants in the NatWest T20 Blast.

"Jack's gone through a period where he has not scored the runs he would have liked but he is a quality cricketer," Gillespie, Yorkshire's coach, said. "He's disappointed today because he did all the hard work and felt he could have gone on to make a really big score but he has great determination and hopefully this augurs well for a strong finish to the season."

Tim Bresnan was another who may reflect ruefully on the way his innings ended, having survived some difficult moments against Jeetan Patel, who bowled 27 overs unchanged and is already getting some turn. Soon after the dismissal of Leaning had ended a partnership of 60 that had seemed to be putting Yorkshire back on track, an airy clip off his legs off Oliver Hannon-Dalby had Bresnan caught at deep square leg.

Hannon-Dalby, back in the side for spinner Josh Poysden with Chris Wright replacing the injured Boyd Rankin, took two wickets against his former county, including the key one of Adam Lyth, a double centurion in his last red-ball innings, with a peach of a ball that moved away late.

As Yorkshire teetered at nine-down, Warwickshire looked cock-a-hoop, yet walked off the field frustrated. "We need to get the momentum back but I still think we are slightly ahead of the game," Warwickshire's director of cricket, Dougie Brown, concluded.

"I don't think we let it get away from us. Patterson and Sidebottom are good players and they batted very well. Patto's slightly unorthodox but what he does he does very well. Yes, 200 all out would have been better but 250 for 9 is not the end of the world."

Sidebottom is back in the side for the first time since April, having recovered from an ankle injury and with Jack Brooks returning from a torn quad muscle the Yorkshire attack has the look of the one that has proved so effective in the last couple of years. If Yorkshire are to pull off those four wins, they might hold the key.