No shortage of commitment as Yorkshire battle to pull clear of trouble
IF THERE is one thing that sportsmen cannot stand it is when people question their passion and desire.
Jack Brooks, the Yorkshire pace bowler, betrayed this on Wednesday evening when, in response to one complainant on Twitter after a first day at Headingley in which his soon-to-be employers Somerset scored 374-8, he responded with one or two views of his own.
“Excuse me pal, what defines our pride & passion?” he replied. “We have our backs to the wall against a good team, we are a bowler down and fighting to stay in the game. I didn’t see a lack of effort at all. If people question our integrity we are gonna have a pop back.”
Quite right, too, and if there is one thing that Yorkshire cannot be accused of in this game, it is any lack of commitment to the cause.
On the contrary, with pace bowler Matthew Fisher struggling with a recurrence of a toe injury, they are showing that, although they may be embroiled in a relegation fight, it is very much a case of “fight” being the operative word as they seek to move to safer ground in the First Division.
Quality and skill levels are one thing, with Somerset second in the table for a reason as they seek to rein in leaders Surrey; pride and passion quite another.
On a second day in which Brooks completed a five-wicket haul having already captured four wickets on the first day, with Somerset eventually dismissed for 399, Yorkshire replied with 292-7.
The pride and passion shown by Brooks and the bowlers was similarly displayed by two batsmen in particular; namely, Andrew Hodd (84 not out) and Tom Kohler-Cadmore (81), who proved that if Yorkshire are to go down fighting in this game or, in a worst-case scenario, into Division Two, such a fate will not be blithely accepted but resisted with the sort of fortitude in evidence here.
Hodd, only playing because first-choice wicketkeeper Jonny Tattersall has a back spasm, delivered a nostalgic flourish ahead of his retirement at the end of the season, batting with typical bustle and improvisation, facing 147 balls and hitting 13 fours.
Kohler-Cadmore, such a destructive hitter in white-ball cricket, performed with similar enterprise, negotiating 142 deliveries and striking eight fours and two sixes before falling in the third over before stumps, smartly caught by wicketkeeper Steven Davies diving to his right off Josh Davey, who then trapped Fisher lbw in the last over.
The sixth-wicket stand was worth 173 in 47 overs, and Hodd is within touching distance of his first hundred for Yorkshire. What a story that would be for a man who thought he had played his final game.
In bright sunshine, with conditions perfect, Brooks had returned to haunt his new club, as it were, by capturing his fifth wicket - and Somerset’s ninth - with the fifth delivery of the morning.
Jamie Overton, driving away from his body, edged low to third slip, where Jack Leaning took a good, tumbling catch to leave the visitors 375-9.
Another wicket would have given Brooks the second-best return of his career after his 6-65 in the 2016 title decider against Middlesex at Lord’s.
As it was, acting captain David Willey applied the coup de grace, Leach fending a short delivery over the slip cordon from where Adam Lyth, running back from second, completed an athletic take as the visitors travelled all the way up the mountain towards 400 and a fifth and final batting point only to lose their footing at the vital moment.
When Yorkshire replied, Harry Brook fell to the 13th ball of the innings, bowled by Lewis Gregory as he pushed forward in defence, and Kane Williamson perished on the stroke of lunch, the New Zealander’s body language suggesting that the delivery from Craig Overton from which he was caught in the gully popped up on him, leaving the hosts 52-2.
Lyth - dropped on five by Leach in the gully off Gregory when the score was 16 - added 59 for the third wicket with Gary Ballance before he was brilliantly held by second slip Marcus Trescothick, who dived in front of first slip to claim the edge off Davey in his right hand.
Ballance, having played nicely, clipped Craig Overton to Leach at mid-wicket and, when Leaning was caught-and-bowled by Davey off an inside-edge, Yorkshire had lost 3-8 in 21 balls to slide to a precarious 119-5.
But the rot was stopped by Hodd and Kohler-Cadmore, who showed the character needed as well as the class.