Division 1, Leeds, September 12 - 15, 2021, County Championship
155 & 176
(T:224) 108 & 117

Warwickshire won by 106 runs


Warwickshire steal a Championship march as Yorkshire run out of reasons for optimism

Another batting collapse at Headingley leaves just four teams in the title running

David Hopps
David Hopps
Tim Bresnan claimed six catches to hasten Yorkshire's demise, Yorkshire vs Warwickshire, County Championship, 4th day, Headingley, September 15, 2021

Tim Bresnan claimed six catches to hasten Yorkshire's demise  •  Getty Images

Warwickshire 155 (Burgess 66) and 176 (Sibley 45, Burgess 37, Thompson 5-52) beat Yorkshire 108 (Ballance 58, Norwell 4-27) and 117 (Woakes 3-26, Norwell 3-38, Miles 3-34) by 106 runs
Boastfulness has been a trait occasionally associated with Yorkshire, whereupon it is naturally dismissed as a baseless charge levelled by people from palpably inferior counties, so it appeared much in keeping with such glorious traditions when Yorkshire's chief executive, Mark Arthur, opined back in January that this season Yorkshire could win the lot.
Arthur, who was treated to back-to-back Championships in his first two full seasons in 2014 and 2015, was in no doubt that the gruel of recent summers was at an end. Or, if he did harbour doubts, he felt it best to proclaim that he didn't. He told the Yorkshire Post "There's no reason why we can't win the Championship, the T20 Blast and the 50-over Cup; the squad is strong enough to win all three competitions."
It now appears that there were three reasons: Essex in the quarter-final of the Royal London Cup - a 129-run trouncing which ended a "gallant" challenge according to the Post; Sussex at the same stage of the Vitality Blast when Rashid Khan went berserk with the bat with the tie seemingly won; and now a decisive defeat against Warwickshire in the Championship, the only competition that matters for a Yorkshire supporter of traditional mindset.
Arthur has kept a low profile this summer, although he was at Headingley as Yorkshire's final hope was extinguished. He has also had to contend with the fall-out after an internal inquiry concluded that Azeem Rafiq had suffered racial harassment during his time at the club. Like many members of Yorkshire's admin staff, he has been on flexible furlough since last November. Furlough ends on September 30, which neatly coincides with the end of the season.
With no success in any competition for six years, it would be remiss of Yorkshire not to examine administrative, captaincy and coaching positions across the board, irrespective of the serious issues raised by Rafiq's revelatory, dogged and often emotional campaign, and the mishandling of their response to it. They have obsessively protected their squad from any fallout from the affair and that squad has been found wanting. Their 50-over campaign, to be fair, was debilitated by the loss of so many players to the Hundred, but they voted for it, and stand to benefit from it more than many, so they can hardly carp too much.
Yorkshire's coach, Andrew Gale, not for the first time, suggested he was in charge of a developing side. "We are on this journey and have made progress this year. It's another step in the right direction." But the voices in the back seat will be crying in his ear: "Are we there yet?" Apparently not.
Yorkshire were fortunate to scrape into Division One of the Championship - had they not beaten Northamptonshire by one run at Headingley it would have been their opponents who qualified - and they, like Somerset, are now out of contention in the final round of matches as the top four fight, Warwickshire among them, for the prize.
Their decline on the final morning, as Warwickshire wrapped up a 106-run win, was expected as soon as it became apparent that a Mediterranean climate had not fallen upon LS6 to soak every vestige of moisture from an uneven surface. In fact, it had rained steadily throughout the previous day, leaving Yorkshire, 50 for 3 overnight, to lose their last seven wickets 67 in 23.3 overs. The pitch seamed and bounced steeply for bowlers prepared to put their back into it. All done and dusted before what was probably a reflective lunch.
Tim Bresnan was one Yorkshireman who could afford to crack a smile. He took six catches at first slip, only one below the first-class record for catches in an innings by a non-wicketkeeper, following up his three in the final session on Monday with another three today.
Gary Ballance had departed in the first over of the morning, batting outside off stump to cover the movement but edging Woakes to second slip in any case. Bresnan just looked on for that one as Sam Hain held the catch, but he was soon wrapping big hands around the ball as Woakes found the edge of Harry Brook's bat. Brook, understandably, stood his ground because it was debatable whether the catch was clean, but umpire Nigel Llong nodded that he was satisfied from square leg.
Bresnan then had a perambulation, and added a wicket when Dom Bess played all around an inswinger. Harry Duke knocked back a leading edge to Craig Miles as he failed to deal with a steeply-rising delivery (cue a glower at the pitch).
When Bresnan took his second catch - a cue end from Jordan Thompson as he tried to cut Liam Norwell - it appeared that time was frozen. The deflection off the bat could have been spotted from one of the flights passing over the ground to Leeds Bradford Airport, but Thompson presumably has been schooled in "We Walk For Nowt" principles. Thompson waited for umpire Neil Mallender, Mallender (a fellow Yorkie) was not about to raise his finger for something so obvious, and a gentle stand-off occurred before Thompson decided that nobody really wanted him to stick around any more.
Bresnan had time to add his sixth catch, another gift, this time from Steve Patterson's hack, before Warwickshire completed their victory. Yorkshire had been outplayed with bat and ball when it mattered and it is Warwickshire, dependable, pragmatic and, it has to be said, occasionally a little dull, who face a disoriented Somerset side at Edgbaston in their final match with their ambitions high.

David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

Yorkshire Innings
<1 / 3>
County Championship
Division 1
Division 2
Division 3
Group 1
Group 2
Group 3