Warwickshire 192 for 5 (Sibley 60) trail Yorkshire 259 (Patterson 60, Hannon-Dalby 5-76, Miles 4-44) by 67 runs
There are times when cricket is defined by tumbling stumps, frenzied tension and the arcs of Eoin Morgan's sixes. And there are those days when maiden overs, skilful leaves and the patience of saints are more than enough. These three sessions at York were notable for the latter and they offered almost perfect satisfaction to the spectators sitting under the wonderful white poplars on the far side of the ground, even as most of them yearned for the fall of visiting wickets. They will not forget this day at Clifton Park and neither will Rob Yates, a 19-year-old Warwickshire batsman who fell one short of a maiden fifty after over three hours in which his every stroke proclaimed a determination not to yield.
Yet just as the evening crowd were ready to applaud the first major achievement of Yates' career, his moment was stolen by a cricketer 16 years his senior whose value to Yorkshire appears to increase with every match he plays. In the morning session Steve Patterson's 60 had helped his side post 259, which most thought a competitive score on a pitch offering bounce and carry. Yet deep in the evening session it seemed that Yates and Dom Sibley's 101-run stand for the second Warwickshire wicket would erode that advantage much as water wears down stone. But Patterson is also a patient man.
Yorkshire's captain brought himself back for his third spell of the day at the City End. In his fourth over he bowled Sibley off the inside edge for 60 when the opener played an ungainly defensive shot outside the off stump. Six overs later the left-handed Yates pushed at a ball slanted across him and was caught at slip by Tom Kohler-Cadmore. Adam Hose survived his first ball before immediately playing around an in-ducker and falling leg before. By the close Matt Lamb had perished in the slips off David Willey, thus completing the loss of four wickets for 27 runs in ten overs. The day ended with Warwickshire on 192 for 5, the new ball due early in the morning and both sides hoping tomorrow's weather forecast is wide of the mark.
Yet if our cricket ended with Yorkshire's cricketers suddenly buoyed by the fall of wickets, its heart had been dominated by the stand between Sibley and Yates, two young batsmen in a top order suddenly devoid of seniority. Indeed, many familiar figures at Edgbaston - Jonathan Trott, Keith Barker, Boyd Rankin - are suddenly absent and a Bears top order lacking Ian Bell is like a plate of eggs royale without salmon. The old solidities, the old pedigree are missing and in this context the batting of Yates and Sibley assumes fresh significance.
Their partnership blunted Yorkshire's attack and it even quietened the 380 corporate hospitality guests, although almost nothing could silence the stentorian auctioneer during the intervals, when he boomed out like Brian Blessed addressing the partially hearing.
Sibley's innings was replete with the defiance Edgbaston supporters have come to expect. The opener's nine championship innings before today had yielded 426 runs including two centuries and his powerful flourishes though the leg side were also par for his course. Yates' effort, by contrast, turned fresh earth. The 19-year-old had managed only 90 runs in seven visits prior to this match and his innings today offered encouragement even as it ended in disappointment. Yet Yates still needed the luck that fortifies any young cricketer. Most notably this came in the form of the straightforward chance dropped by Adam Lyth off Patterson when he had only a single to his name.
Thus reprieved he went on to cut Willey over the slips and cover-drive Jordan Thompson for fours, but the quality of Yates' batting consisted more in the good balls he defended or simply let go. To watch his mid-afternoon duel with James Logan, Yorkshire's 21-year-old left-arm spinner, was to see two young cricketers at important stages of their development. And you may be assured most of the crowd realised it.
For if the cricket at Clifton Park might be dismissed as slow in this 17-sixes-a-pop era, it prompted no discontent among the thousands on the ground for whom such contests are custom-built delight. They had enjoyed the morning's play, too, when for nearly 90 minutes Patterson and Logan had batted with the prudence of Yorkshiremen squirrelling a few quid away in their building society accounts. Regular accretion was preferable to risky punts.
This was no boisterous, end-of-term thrash but a considered alliance between batsmen who trusted each other during their 48-run stand for the ninth wicket. Only three boundaries had been struck, none of them in front of the wicket before Patterson lost his off stump when trying to cut Oliver Hannon-Dalby. He had made 60, which was only his fourth first-class fifty, but he had batted like a skipper who knew the value of his runs and a bowler who would have to defend the total he was compiling. And deep in the evening Patterson was doing precisely that.
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications