David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps
Warwickshire 244 and 57 for 3 (Thompson 3-19) trail Yorkshire 449 (Lyth 145, Brook 82, Revis 53*, McAndrew 4-111) by 148 runs
There have been days in many a Championship summer when the reigning champions get a shiver of realisation that they are not going to successfully defend their title. Perhaps this was the day when Warwickshire recognised that their standing is in doubt. They could not have responded more grudgingly.
It is not often that the loss of Dom Sibley's wicket causes the scoring rate to plummet, but it did at Headingley on a day that finished in the grimmest of fashions. Three down for 25 in the 13th over, Warwickshire responded with a display of strokeless defiance that communicated they will not concede their title lightly. Mark Robinson, Warwickshire's coach, talked about calming things down after a bit of craziness which was true enough, even if it did sound a bit like a prescription for anxiety from an over-pressed GP.
Sam Hain and Will Rhodes had added 32 in 28 overs when light rain brought a welcome end with 7.4 overs remaining. Yorkshire, still 148 runs ahead, will expect to take seven wickets to claim victory on the final day, and there is more encouragement in the surface for the bowlers than has been apparent when Yorkshire have failed to force home winning positions on the final day, but in a season of stalemates, nothing can be taken for granted.
Considering that the Championship is a great democracy, with nine of the counties (exactly half) having won the title since the turn of the century, successful title defences are surprisingly common: Surrey (1999/2000), Sussex (2006/2007), Durham (2008/2009) and Yorkshire (2014/2015) have all managed it in that period.
But barring something extraordinary, Warwickshire will reach the mid-point of the season with only one victory. Apart from Essex at Edgbaston in April, they have struggled to bowl sides out twice this summer. In 2021, Liam Norwell and Craig Miles shared 86 wickets. This year their tally is nine. They have been unable to cover the shortfall.
Their batting has also lacked the consistency of last year. Jordan Thompson took advantage of that with three new-ball wickets either side of tea, Alex Davies, a close-season signing from Lancashire who is yet to fire at the top of the order, chipped to Will Fraine at midwicket and Yates' bat had twisted a full 90 degrees in his hands when he chipped back to Tom Loten, diving towards short mid-off. Thompson then found a bit of bounce from a good length as Sibley fell off the shoulder of the bat at point.
Yorkshire extended their overnight 269 for 4 by another 180 runs which represented the top end of their ambitions. Adam Lyth was the mainstay of their innings taking his second-day century to 145. He had batted for a touch under seven hours when he sought out his favoured region, square on the off-side, and was caught at the wicket, cutting a ball from Nathan McAndrew.
The afternoon, though, belonged to Matthew Revis, whose second first-class fifty, allied to his development as a seam bowler, again identified him as Yorkshire's breakthrough player of the season. A last-wicket stand of 58 in seven overs with Steve Patterson removed what little hope Warwickshire had of turning the game.
With licence to attack, he has surely never struck the ball as crisply, so often, in his county career. Oliver Hannon-Dalby was pulled and lofted straight, and Danny Briggs stylishly despatched inside-out to the extra cover boundary, but the best shot of all was a slog-sweep for six against Briggs that brought up his half-century.
Revis, an imposing 20-year-old, is fast developing into a cricketer to be reckoned with. Like team-mates Harry Brook and George Hill, he is a product of Sedbergh School under their director of cricket Martin Speight. He debuted in the Championship at the end of 2019 as an opening batter, aged 17. But he has been playing this season as more of a specialist hit-the-pitch-hard seam bowler batting at No. 9.
When the skipper, Steve Patterson, emerged at No 11, he implored Revis to be positive. "That's when I play at my best, when I'm looking to score," he said. "I would like to bat higher up in the future, hopefully. But the job I'm doing now, I'm really enjoying it."
Warwickshire's only consolation was some fine catching - Rhodes held a screamer at mid-on to dismiss Thompson - and the manner in which Dom Bess had gifted them a bowling bonus point when he advanced down the wicket at Briggs and sliced high into the off side. This time last year, the extra point might have been a case of Every Little Helps, all part of their methodical progress towards a Championship title. This summer, with the season at its mid-point, it appears to be a point that will be irrelevant, one way or another, by the time September ends.
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