Yorkshire 62 for 1 (Lyth 35*) trail Warwickshire 219 (Patel 100, Fisher 5-54) by 157 runs
A freewheeling hundred by Jeetan Patel, which might have been designed to banish the frustrations of a relegation season in a single innings, has kept Warwickshire in a contest at Headingley that Yorkshire need to win to calm their own fears of a drop into Division Two.
The decrepit old Rugby Stand might be about to be pulled down, but Yorkshire have no wish to go down with it. A hole at one end of the ground is one thing, a hole in the heart of every Yorkshire cricket supporter quite another. In fifth place at the start of this round, one point above Somerset and Middlesex, they wish to put an awkward transitional season to bed without further alarms.
Patel ensured a few restless nights yet. Simplicity is the essence of his batting and the fact that Warwickshire’s relegation is assured uncluttered his mind even further. He clattered anything wide to the cover boundary with aplomb, turning 49 for 6 into 219 – unexpected riches. Patel and Ian Bell got a century and half-century apiece and the other nine batsmen managed 54 between them.
Patel only has three first-class centuries and two have come against Yorkshire. He did not outstay his welcome once it was achieved, falling lbw to Matt Fisher’s next delivery as he tried to hit through the leg side. Fisher finished with 5 for 54 in his first Championship appearance of the season. From a single bowling analysis much good can come.
“Get through the season” has been the gist of Yorkshire’s message to Fisher. If it had to be the 2nd XI then so be it. There is no point being the most highly-regarded young quick in the country if your hamstring is not up to the job. Three times it let him down last year, once while batting. He skippered England Under-19s in India, but regarded his own body suspiciously.
For an enthusiast like Fisher, identified as a talent at an early age and eager to make his mark, to be regarded as a long-term project and asked to bowl within himself while his body strengthened, cannot have been easy. He looked a little down on pace, perhaps as a consequence, but the wickets came. He was on a few long lists for the 2019 World Cup and, if that is no longer the case, this was the first sign of better things ahead.
Liam Banks, an England U19 on Championship debut, was Fisher’s first victim, edging a ball of challenging line which bounced and left him just enough. But Bell was his most prized wicket, a relief for Yorkshire after a stand of 96 for the seventh wicket.
Bell, showing occasional silkiness while Warwickshire collapsed around him, reached 50 by edging Fisher wide of gully, but he fell in Fisher’s next over as he took the last four wickets at a time when Patel was causing growing disquiet. Chris Wright followed in Fisher’s next over, another lbw victim.
Yorkshire conceded 142 between lunch and tea and it was a surprise that it only brought one plaintiff cry of “C’mon Yorkshire”. In the Rugby Stand, where the sun never intrudes, the diehards looked on with a critical air, as diehards have often done, offering corrugated opinions under the corrugated roof for the past 90 years.
The morning had belonged to Yorkshire, prospering after Jonathan Trott took the chance to bowl first – unusual for a 10.30am start in September, especially when the home side needed a positive result. Yorkshire fielded five pace bowlers, as if uncertain which ones would rouse themselves to the task. Jack Brooks led the way with the first two wickets, Trott falling to an excellent diving catch by Adam Lyth at second slip, Ben Coad following up.
Collectors of cricketing oddities would be disappointed that the chance of Ryan Sidebottom bowling to Ryan Sidebottom went begging because Yorkshire’s Ryan Sidebottom, whose name really should have been copyrighted years ago, had a hamstring strain. More pertinently, it has denied him a Headingley farewell and with the final Championship match of the season due at Chelmsford next week, it might deny him any sort of farewell at all.
But he can be hurrahed here at any rate, 762 first-class wickets to his name, a model professional entering retirement at 39. A bowler who upped sticks and spent the middle period of his career at Nottinghamshire but who, even when he did, remained the very essence of a Yorkshire cricketer. It might have all ended with him looking exasperated and cursing a flat one at The Oval as Surrey made 592, resenting every run as always. Perhaps it was a suitable way to go.