Old guard reunites as Yorkshire step up their title charge

Yorkshire 257 (Head 54, Barker 4-55) and 150 (Lees 70, Clarke 4-45, Patel 4-49) beat Warwickshire 179 (Clarke 50*) and 180 (Trott 59, Rashid 4-29) by 48 runs

Yorkshire will sense that a third consecutive County Championship title is well within their compass after climbing to third place with a victory that drew on tried and trusted ingredients. It puts them within striking distance of the two teams ahead of them, both of whom have played a match more and both of whom must still face Yorkshire for a second time.

There were no headline-grabbing innings, and never were there likely to be on a bone-dry pitch that was a challenge from day one, but the reuniting of what has been their most consistently effective bowling attack seemed to bring with it a fresh injection of self-belief. Ryan Sidebottom and Jack Brooks were back in tandem for the first time in more than three months, spurring each other on to excessively celebrated successes; Steven Patterson backed them up with his metronomic miserliness and Adil Rashid hoovered up the left-overs by bamboozling the tail.

It was a contest of narrow margins and important moments, none more so than the stunning catch at third slip pulled off by Jack Leaning to remove Tim Ambrose, breaking a partnership with Jonathan Trott that had added 91 runs and seemed perhaps to be tilting the balance in Warwickshire's favour.

That gave Sidebottom a second wicket in the innings and a fifth in his comeback match. Shortly afterwards, Brooks, who himself has been off the scene lately with hip and thigh injuries, accounted for Trott for the second time in the match, again caught and bowled off a leading edge, which is certainly not a regular mode of dismissal for the former England batsman. It gave Brooks, who had dismissed Varun Chopra and Ian Bell in the same over earlier, his fifth in the match too.

Rikki Clarke perished leg before to Patterson, one of several decisions in which Warwickshire felt they were unlucky, and then it was over to Rashid, who picked off Keith Barker, Jeetan Patel and Chris Wright in consecutive overs before finally winkling out a gutsily resistant Sam Hain, who batted essentially with one arm for more than two hours before Adam Lyth snared him at slip with a joyous whoop.

Earlier, Hain had been lucky to escape serious injury when he tripped over the rope after a vain attempt to deny Andy Hodd a boundary, crashing into the concrete wall of the Western Stand. He sat up but remained motionless for some minutes before being helped off the field, clearly in some pain after his left shoulder had borne the brunt of the impact.

Warwickshire later revealed that Hain had felt the shoulder dislocate with the impact and return to its socket as he rolled over. He is scheduled to have a scan on Monday to determine if there is any other damage.

Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire captain, felt the return of Sidebottom and Brooks was the key to recharging their title challenge.

"Ultimately that's the attack that won us the Championship last year," he said. "They are the guys that perform well at Headingley, where Jack Brooks and Siddy have outstanding records and it made a massive difference having those two back. Having Ryan back is like a new signing.

"And when we get into positions like that with the opposition five or six down, we turn to Adil Rashid and he is just so ruthless in the way he cleans the tail up. We call him the Hoover, the Dyson.

"There are not many tailenders who can pick his googly and this was a pitch which turned a lot more than usual for Headingley, so it was perfect for him.

"It's a massive result. If we are to be up there again at the end of the season we need to win our home games and this puts us right back in the mix, breathing down Middlesex's necks."

All this was made possible by Yorkshire fulfilling Sidebottom's assessment of what was required to post a competitive total, adding 72 runs to their overnight 78 for 5 thanks largely to Alex Lees, whose 70 was an outstanding effort in the circumstances.

None of his partners could stay with him long. Rashid cracked a couple of nice-looking boundaries off Clarke but fell to a catch at short leg as the tireless Jeetan Patel took the first of his three wickets on the day.

Tim Bresnan was caught at mid-on, miscuing an attempted slog-sweep, then Hodd followed one from Wright to be caught behind. There was no shifting Lees, who had been patient in picking off the bad balls, until he went after a wide ball from Wright to give Ambrose another catch. Sidebottom soon followed as Patel claimed his sixth wicket of the match, but 150 had swelled the target to something that was always going to be testing.

"It is tough to fall 50 runs short and it is frustrating that we lost a game we could have won if we had performed better at key moments," Warwickshire's director of cricket, Dougie Brown, said.

"But credit to Yorkshire. They played very well and it just came down to needing two or three runs more from each partnership, that's how close it was."

"It was a brave effort by Sam, who was clearly in a lot of pain and hampered in some of the shots he was not able to play but he stuck at it and tried to make a difference."