Notts v Yorkshire: Yorkshire thwarted in late surge for victory
Yorkshire hung on for a thrilling draw after having to call off their own late ambush at Trent Bridge in their heavyweight clash with Nottinghamshire.
Alex Lees’ century, to add to his first-innings 92, gave the champions the impetus to push until the fall of the sixth wicket - with under seven overs left - for a spectacular run-chase.
Ultimately, though, after the visitors’ big hitters came and went, they ended up with last man Jack Brooks blocking the last two balls of the match from Stuart Broad to claim the nerviest of stalemates.
Chris Read’s 25th first-class century, and then a spell of four for 15 from Harry Gurney, therefore proved most telling in a wonderful contest as Yorkshire closed on 257 for nine and Notts went top of an embryonic Specsavers Division One table.
Read carried the hosts to 348 all out in mid-afternoon, at which point any late drama appeared out of the equation.
But the handshakes never came as Yorkshire promoted Jonny Bairstow, Liam Plunkett and David Willey to take on the challenge of 144 runs needed from 16 overs in the last hour.
Notts held their nerve, and the heist never happened either as Jake Ball and Gurney (four for 53) shared the spoils with seven wickets between them.
Yorkshire lost five wickets for 25 in 41 balls, initially hitting into a deep-set fields in pursuit of victory and then trying to defy close catchers as Notts sought the last laugh - and the ninth wicket fell finally as Broad’s only scalp of the match came when Steve Patterson was lbw, with Brooks denying the last shot at victory.
Read’s chanceless hundred had shut out the visitors’ famed pace attack from number seven - while Broad injected extra adventure with a flamboyant fifty in a century stand.
From 98 for five the previous day, Read oversaw the addition of exactly 250 runs.
Set 320 to win in a minimum 53 overs, Yorkshire seemed to be gradually attuning themselves to the inevitable - after the early loss of Adam Lyth for the second time in the match.
Lyth was caught behind down the leg side, off Ball, before Gary Ballance joined Lees (107) in a century stand at a leisurely pace which belied what was to follow.
Ballance was caught at leg-slip trying a reverse-sweep at Samit Patel, but it was Joe Root who first brought a new urgency to proceedings before being caught in the deep off Ball.
Read (101) and Broad (55) had defied expectations that the narrative would centre on Notts struggling to keep Yorkshire’s bowlers at bay, all the greater after Patel fell to his first ball of the day and a very good catch by Root at third slip off Brooks.
Counter-attacking Broad announced his intentions by driving Brooks’ half-volley for four past cover first ball.
Yorkshire held Willey back for the second new ball, by which time Broad and Read already had a rollicking near run-a-ball fifty stand under their belts.
Plunkett’s attempt to bounce Broad, from round the wicket, was a fearsome prospect - but resulted in a hook for six over the Fox Road stand.
Adil Rashid was a bowler transformed - and not in a good way - from the first innings, failing to keep control.
Broad hit eight fours and a six in his 44-ball half-century. Then after he edged Brooks (three for 69) head-high to Lyth at second slip, Ball helped Read put on another 34.
Ball was bowled middle-stump round his legs after he took it upon himself to move in the opposite direction to Willey.
There was more unlikely support for Read from Jackson Bird - enough for the captain to eventually complete his hundred, in the company of number 11 Gurney, with his 14th four over mid-on off Rashid.
Read was last out to Patterson (four for 57), caught by a juggling Rashid on the midwicket boundary - but by then he had played a major part in a tale of the increasingly unexpected.