Nathan Gilchrist snares four wickets as Yorkshire and Kent share the spoils
Youngster impresses in second game, Gary Ballance falls four shy of his century in rain-affected draw
Yorkshire 321 (Ballance 96, Brook 59, Gilchrist 4-74) drew with Kent 305 (Crawley 90, Coad 3-53)
"The problem with old coppers' tricks, Constable Boyle, is that old coppers know 'em," says Inspector Raymond Fowler in the 1996 British sitcom The Thin Blue Line. Likewise the point about four-day cricket pitches is that they are meant to last four days. This is absolutely as it should be and it is also what the captain of England has requested. But the slightly unfortunate consequence of this otherwise laudable policy is that County Championship matches are less likely to produce a victor if a day is lost.
So even before the umpires compounded Saturday's washout by deciding that no play would be possible before lunch on the final afternoon of this contest, it was plain that its principal points of interest would be whether Gary Ballance would score the nine runs he needed for his 41st first-class century and which of these sides might claim most bonus points. And as players almost always observe when games are done, we will not know the precise value of such small advantages until July at the earliest. It was rather clearer that should Kent bowl 110 overs, the cricketers would be filling the time before fistbumps and coaches home. It would be meaningful middle practice a month into a long season. Such a relatively pointless session was avoided and you can be sure Nathan Gilchrist will recall this rather desultory Sunday in Leeds. On Friday he had taken his maiden wickets in first-class cricket; this afternoon he added two more and the 20-year-old can hardly have done any more to impress Kent's coaches in his second first-class game. Indeed, had wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson clung on to a catch off Ben Coad in the game's penultimate over Gilchrist would have been leaving Headingley with a five-fer.
As things turned out we did not start until 2.45 and only 28.3 over were bowled before Yorkshire's Duanne Olivier swiped Jack Leaning to Marcus O'Riordan at long on. That ended the home side's innings on 321 and thereby settled the bonus points issue 6-5 in Kent's favour. Since each side also takes eight points for the draw neither will be moaning after a contest that had comprised only two innings
And the cricket we saw did not want for incident. The first cricketer to thank for this - please do not think of doing so - was Ballance, who called Dominic Bess for a single and was run out by O'Riordan's direct hit from backward point when four runs short of his hundred. That dismissal rather set the tone for an afternoon session in which Kent bowled 19.1 accurate overs and Yorkshire scratched about for 29 runs while losing two more wickets: Bess had his off stump knocked out by Darren Stevens when he played inside a ball that straightened up and Steve Patterson was caught behind off Gilchrist when attempting a flat-footed cut.
Yorkshire's ninth-wicket pair, Jordan Thompson and Coad, batted with far more purpose after tea and a rash of boundaries brought the 31 runs they needed for a third batting bonus point. Almost as soon as this was achieved, however, Thompson became Gilchrist's fourth victim when he edged to Robinson and three overs later the umpires ushered the players off for a ten-minute rain break. The only thing at issue during the subsequent epilogue was whether Yorkshire could get another bonus point, and Coad's run-a-ball 33 certainly gave them a hope of doing so. Leaning, though, put an end to such fond notions and left his old home-ground on a note of gentle triumph.
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications