Warwickshire 320 and 111 for 2 (Westwood 58) lead Yorkshire 328 (Wainwright 102, Brophy 85, Sreesanth 5-93) by 103 runs
They did it again. If Yorkshire stay in the top division for next season, they will have to thank their lower middle order for all the times they have saved the team from likely defeat, and once brought them victory. The great escape at Scarborough was certainly one of the most remarkable. David Wainwright's unbeaten 102 and Gerard Brophy's 85 dragged Yorkshire from the depths of 99 for 7 to a total of 328, through fine aggressive batting, if aided by some very incompetent Warwickshire bowling. That was the end of Yorkshire's dominance, though, as they dropped a vital catch early on when Warwickshire batted again, and the match already smells of a likely draw.
Yorkshire began the day at 100 for 7, still needing another 71 runs to save the follow-on. According to Dickie Bird, they could blame their decision to use the heavy roller on the previous afternoon for the loss of those wickets, while their preference for the light roller in the morning eased the pitch considerably. Not that a minefield would have been much good to the opposition, the way Warwickshire, and Sreesanth in particular, opened their bowling. The Indian sprayed the ball all over the place, most of it wide, and Christmas had come early for Brophy and Wainwright. Half an hour later the score was 150 and Sreesanth had been banished to the outfield after an opening spell of 3-0-33-0, including seven fours.
Brophy's 50 came off 77 balls, and shortly afterwards the follow-on was saved. Rikki Clarke, coming on to bowl, was the most erratic of all, though a blustery wind was certainly a handicap to all the Warwickshire bowlers. At one stage, Ian Westwood, the Warwickshire captain, left the field for a few minutes and the bowling coach Allan Donald came on as substitute. He was quite clearly directing operations on the field, despite the fact that the laws prohibit a substitute from captaining a team. Wainwright reached his 50 off 69 balls just before lunch, when Yorkshire were 239 for 7.
Brophy, out for 99 while saving the team in the recent Roses match last week, was approaching his century, but again fell short. He pushed forward at a ball from Ant Botha, but was beaten by the spin and edged a catch to slip, departing for 83 after a partnership of 144. The next anticipated target was Wainwright's century. Matthew Hoggard stood firm for a while but, with his partner on 95, he swung loosely at a leg-side ball from Naqaash Tahir and was caught by the keeper for 18.
It was left to Deon Kruis, a man with a lusty attack but rusty defence, to see Wainwright through, and this he did successfully, the landmark coming off 147 balls. His innings increased calls for him to open the Yorkshire innings - which he has done with success before - allowing Jacques Rudolph to drop to the middle order, and the Yorkshire hierarchy would do well to consider this option.
Kruis made his own contribution, pulling Tahir for a big six, before sending up a skier that was almost misjudged by Tim Ambrose, the keeper, who recovered well. He made 30, leaving Wainwright unbeaten on 102 and Yorkshire unexpectedly led by eight runs on the first innings. Sreesanth's figures of 5 for 93 off only 15.2 overs clearly illustrated the heights and low of his bowling.
Warwickshire had just started their second innings when a flurry of rain brought about an early tea. Fortunately - or was it? - only four overs were lost. The final session appeared likely to condemn the match to a draw. It might have been different if, shortly after the resumption, Brophy had held a straight-forward edge off Hoggard from Westwood, who had 8 at the time. As it was, the opening partnership with Botha progressed steadily to 96 before the latter cut a long hop from McGrath straight to point and departed for 33.
Westwood progressed to his 50 off 103 balls, but then lost the nightwatchman Tahir, unwisely shouldering arms to be clean bowled by Ajmal Shahzad. The bowlers beat the batsmen a couple of times before the close, but without success. Barring most unusual circumstances, Yorkshire are now virtually safe from defeat, and only an unlikely collapse by Warwickshire on the final day could bring them victory. But presumably the opposition will not be using the heavy roller.