Yorkshire v Hampshire (day 1): Not even in-form Gary Ballance can come to Yorkshire’s rescue
Gary Ballance would never claim to be in that bracket, of course, but perhaps the most remarkable aspect of a rain-hit first day when the hosts scored 181 and Hampshire 14-1 was that the Yorkshire batsman did not make a hundred, instead dismissed for 12 when he pushed at a ball from left-arm pace bowler Keith Barker and was caught behind.
Ballance, the relentlessly consistent 29-year-old left-hander, had scored four hundreds in his previous four Championship games – 194 in the final fixture of last season at Worcestershire, followed by 101 not out in the first match of this summer at Nottinghamshire, 148 away to Hampshire and 159 in the contest at Kent.
It was a remarkable sequence that left one wondering when was the last time that a Yorkshire player had hit five hundreds in successive Championship matches, if at all, and although no answer rewarded research, it was possible to discern that twice before had a player hit four hundreds in successive Championship innings for the club as opposed to in successive games – Herbert Sutcliffe in 1931 and in 1939.
All of which statistical delving at least whiled away the time when the weather took hold, with five interruptions in addition to a delayed start of 82 minutes.
It was one of those days when the weather did not seem to know what it was doing, one of those typically frustrating English Bank Holidays. It was the sort of day, in fact, when Andy Fogarty and his groundstaff worked just as hard as anyone, mopping up like parents presiding over spillages at a children’s birthday party – albeit with a smile never far from their faces.
The weather-beaten Yorkshire crowd – numbering roughly 1,000 – looked on impassively beneath cloth caps and coats, just as Yorkshire crowds have done since time immemorial.
It was certainly not the best day to be a batsman, which made the decision first of all by Hampshire to forgo the right to bowl and secondly for Yorkshire to bat when the coin landed in their favour a little surprising given subsequent evidence.
The ball nipped around beneath predominantly overcast skies, although conditions are not expected to improve as the week goes on so there was sense in trying to get runs on the board and drive the game from there.
One man intent on doing just that was Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who, stepping up to the plate after the rarity of a low score from Ballance, played the day’s leading innings – 45 from 105 balls with seven fours.
It took a good ball to get him –James Fuller, the South African-born pace man, defeating his defence with a fine yorker – and he played a number of handsome strokes, particularly a couple of sumptuous drives off Fuller to the mid-on boundary.
David Willey, left out of England’s World Cup squad but still on standby should injury strike, contributed an attractive 34 off 35 deliveries with six fours, five of them off Fuller and the other laced through the covers off Fidel Edwards.
But when he lobbed up Edwards to Keith Barker at mid-on having looked nicely set, it rather summed up a collective batting performance which, in turn, rather summed up the way that Yorkshire have batted for several years now – inconsistently.
The top-seven all reached double figures, but no one apart from Kohler-Cadmore and Willey got out of the teens.
Harry Brook chopped on to Edwards as he played at a ball well outside his off stump, and fellow opener Adam Lyth should have followed in the next over but was dropped at second slip by Joe Weatherley off Barker on 18.
After Ballance survived a vociferous lbw shout from Edwards that might have been heard back in his native Barbados, Lyth fell without addition when this time Weatherley clung on off Barker to leave Yorkshire 50-2.
When Ballance was caught behind by Aneurin Donald, substituting for Tom Alsop who was feeling unwell, the hosts had lost 3-21 in 7.2 overs.
Kohler-Cadmore added 51 with Jack Leaning, who edged a ball from Fuller that held its line into the hands of first slip Ajinkya Rahane.
Edwards, erratic at times but deadly when he got the ball in the vicinity of the blockhole, had Jonny Tattersall caught behind pushing forward, later bowling Steve Patterson with a vicious away-swinging yorker and castling Ben Coad to claim 5-49.
Yorkshire lost their last five wickets for 11 runs but they did strike in the day’s final over, Coad trapping Oliver Soames lbw to give hope that they could inflict comparable damage on the Hampshire line-up.