Yorkshire v Hampshire (day two): Bresnan and Lyth stand tall to help hosts gain advantage at Headingley
IF EVER a comment summed up Tim Bresnan, it was when he was asked after close of play on Wednesday night whether he had been desperate to take the final wicket of the Hampshire first innings, which would have given him the first six-wicket haul of his first-class career.
“No, not really,” he smiled, looking somewhat surprised by the interviewer’s question. “I couldn’t give a toss who got the last wicket, to be honest, as long as someone did, and we didn’t have to spend too long out in the field and could get on with batting and building a lead.”
It was a revealing response, one suggestive of a man who puts side over self, the bigger picture over any personal consideration.
“Of course, it was nice to get five wickets,” he clarified, after finishing with career-best figures of 5-28. “I don’t take five wickets very often, so it’s nice to know I can still do a job.”
Thanks largely to Bresnan, Yorkshire dismissed Hampshire for 157 in reply to 184 before closing day two on 172-4, a lead of 199 as they seek the win that would guarantee their First Division survival.
The former England man already had two wickets to his name overnight, and he took the first three of the morning after Hampshire resumed on 79-5, trapping Kyle Abbott lbw before having Tom Alsop caught at second slip and catching Liam Dawson off his own bowling – an instinctive take as he thrust out his left hand.
It completed only the ninth five-fer of Bresnan’s first-class career as he beat his previous best of 5-36 against Notts at Scarborough in 2016.
He attributes the lack of five-fers to not taking the new ball and to doing the “grunt work”, as he puts it, before the “big boys return to mop up the tail” – tongue, as ever, wedged firmly in cheek.
Bresnan’s intervention was timely and indicative of the way that Yorkshire have rallied in recent days.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going, and after defeating Lancashire last week, Yorkshire have the chance of another fine win, Adam Lyth leading the charge in their second innings with a splendid, unbeaten 60.
Bresnan epitomises the fight in the camp and said that it was “nice to reward Yorkshire for putting faith in me” after they recently handed him a new two-year contract following weeks of discussions.
He was not entirely happy with the way that it all dragged out and is honest enough to say as much. Did he ever come close to leaving?
“I bought some train tickets,” he quipped, before adding that “I’m glad it’s sorted now and I can start looking ahead to the future”.
That future sees Bresnan as an important figure in a period of transition as an experienced hand to help guide the club’s youngsters.
With typical candour, he has not been entirely satisfied with his efforts this year – “if I’m playing well, the team usually plays well, and I’ve not been good enough”, he said, referring primarily to his batting rather than a respectable return of 32 Championship wickets at 26.
But the sight of him toiling away yesterday into a howling gale was a rousing sight on as windy a day for cricket as Headingley can have known.
That wind was so strong, in fact, that it blew down a section of advertising hoarding on to a spectator in the East Stand, who was not badly hurt, and it sent Steve Patterson’s cap flying a full 40 yards, the Yorkshire captain several times getting close to it before it mockingly blew away from him just as he was about to pick it up.
After Matthew Waite bowled a driving Ian Holland, leaving the visitors 140-9, it was Ben Coad who nipped in to take that final Hampshire wicket, trapping Gareth Berg lbw for the joint top-score of 25.
Leading by 27, Yorkshire had increased their advantage to 53 when Jeet Raval was first to fall in their second innings, caught behind driving at Fidel Edwards.
Harry Brook played well before being caught behind off spinner Dawson’s first delivery, and Gary Ballance became Dawson’s second victim when he was adjudged lbw, umpire Graham Lloyd taking so long to raise his finger that he almost timed himself out in the process.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore, a man in excellent touch, struck an impressive trio of off-side boundaries off Abbott before he was fourth out at 132, caught behind off Holland. But Jonny Tattersall kept Lyth company until stumps to cap another encouraging day for the hosts.
“We’ve got a very useful lead to kick on and try and get a win in this game now,” said Bresnan. “Lythy’s played his socks off for the last few weeks, and been very unlucky with a couple of dismissals that haven’t gone his way, so he’s earned his reward.
“He’s really battled out there and played beautifully too.”