Yorkshire CCC face damage limitation as Roses rivals Lancashire turn the screw at Old Trafford
LITTLE motivation is required when Yorkshire play on t’other side of hill, but if they needed any ahead of the 221st Roses match, it was supplied by the Lancashire batsman Alex Davies.
In an interview with BBC local radio, Davies said that Yorkshire are “not the team they used to be”, his comments barely dulled by the caveat that he was speaking at the risk of his team getting hammered.
Were it physically possible to pin a radio broadcast to a dressing room wall, then Steve Patterson and his players would surely have done so, but Davies’s remarks have so far resembled a statement of fact as opposed to an obvious stimulus to Yorkshire.
The visitors are not the team that they were a few years back - they are not even the team that they have been this summer, given the various absences here - but they are still, on paper, a talented one, and one which has so far been outplayed.
At the halfway stage of this Championship game, between the first and second-placed sides in Group Three, Lancashire are 350-6 in their first innings, leading by 191, after dismissing Yorkshire for 159 on the opening day.
You do not win many games from 40-7 after choosing to bat, as Yorkshire were before rallying late on, and it would take something remarkable for them to win this one, rendering their next objective to try not to lose it.
Such a task will not be easy, despite a pitch that has not misbehaved, but Patterson is hopeful that the visitors can rally as he delivered a candid assessment of their failings.
“It’s been very difficult,” he said. “We got off to a terrible start and we’ve struggled to get back into the game.
“In a sense we’ve seen it coming a little bit this year in some of our performances, when we’ve managed to claw our way back in, but against a very good Lancashire side who are top of the league, they’ve not given us that opportunity.
“Two days in we’re way behind in the game, and it’s just about showing some character now and seeing if we can salvage something.”
On a grey and gloomy day in Manchester, as this enemy territory reverted to type, Lancashire accumulated in attritional style.
Only 55 runs came in the morning session, during which Yorkshire sent down 31 wicketless overs, Lancashire advancing from their overnight 95-1 through the tall left-handed pair of former England opener Keaton Jennings and Luke Wells.
The cricket was not pretty but nor, from a Lancashire point of view, did it have to be. Their initial target was simply to bat time, to stifle any hope of a Yorkshire fightback, which was not assisted by the lack of movement on offer, both off the pitch and through the air, making the snail-like run-rate all the more to Yorkshire’s credit as they bowled “dry”, as they say, and stemmed the scoring.
Penetration, however, was a different matter. Yorkshire did not take their first wicket of the day until 3.10pm, when Ben Coad had Jennings taken at first slip with the second new ball.
Jennings had struck three of Coad’s previous four deliveries to the boundary but this time he edged to Tom Kohler-Cadmore, having scored 114 from 260 balls with 14 fours, his first first-class century since the Galle Test of November 2018.
As so often happens after a long stand (in this case, 175 in 66 overs), one wicket brings two – Wells also caught at first slip by Kohler-Cadmore after he appeared to be trying to leave a delivery from Thompson, the batsman swinging his bat angrily as he left the crease having scored 60 from 201 balls with eight fours.
Liam Livingstone played a poor shot, slapping Thompson down mid-on’s throat, as 246-1 suddenly became 252-4. But Josh Bohannon (47) and Dane Vilas (35) stepped on the accelerator, adding 57 in good time before Kohler-Cadmore took his third catch, running back from slip after Vilas miscued an attempted pull off Coad.
By the 110-over cut-off for bonus points, Lancashire, then 324-5, led 6-1, as though they had taken the opening set in a tennis match.
Should Lancashire and Yorkshire both qualify for Division One later in the year, they will carry forward half the points that they accrue in this game and from July’s return group match in Scarborough, ensuring that even the smallest of margins could have future sigificance.
Thompson took his third wicket when Luke Wood hung out his bat and was caught behind, with Yorkshire plugging away in impressive fashion. When you are consistently failing in your first innings, though, it is tough on the bowlers to keep pegging things back, and once again their efforts could not be faulted.
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