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Ballance Defies Hampshire
The revenge mission on the south coast against our recent conquerors of Hampshire did not exactly go according to plan. In the end, a comprehensively outplayed Yorkshire did quite well to escape with a draw. The occasion was another painful reminder of how flakey our top order batting appears to be. There was one glorious exception, as Gary Ballance, leading from the front, produced his best-ever match return of a whopping 311 runs, as he already accelerates halfway towards one thousand runs for the summer. Without the heroics of the captain, the visitors would have been soundly thrashed.
Coad Demolishes Hapless Warwickshire
The Tykes brought to an end a dismal run of three consecutive County Championship defeats, as they emphatically trounced mediocre Warwickshire. Quite frankly, where would Yorkshire be without a generous helping of County Championship points each season from Warwickshire, a decent team that consistently underperforms in first class cricket against the white rose county? Whilst many of our batsmen chipped in with useful runs, it was the bowling exploits of young Ben Coad that once again caught the eye. Peculiarly the raw but red hot Coad had reduced the hosts to seven for five in their abject second innings. For a few farcical minutes, one was left wondering if the home team would even muster a double figures score!
A Miserable Start
Depressingly, the Andrew Gale coaching era has got off to the worst possible start, as his makeshift team shot themselves in the foot and contrived to lose their first County Championship outing of 2017, losing in their own backyard. It was a terrible blow, after enjoying a considerable lead at the halfway stage. Regrettably a complacent home team failed to drive home their advantage, but instead collapsed badly on Saturday afternoon, when they really should have been posting a target in excess of four hundred runs. Instead, Hampshire got themselves out of jail, and buoyed by their bowling efforts in the second innings, they then proceeded to successfully chase down a demanding 320, ably assisted by butter fingers from Yorkshire close fielders.
Bresnan's Heroics In Vain
In spite of a brilliant batting performance from Tim Bresnan, ably assisted by important cameos from Hodd and Rafiq, Yorkshire's attempt to achieve a rare hat trick of County Championships was foiled on the final hour of the season by our nemesis Toby Roland-Jones who rounded off the season by taking a hat trick of Tyke wickets. Young Roland-Jones, a far more potent bowler than the hyped Finn, finished off the drama by bowling both Hodd and Sidebottom, to finish with match figures of ten wickets, at a cost of 127 runs. Nick Gubbins was also a major thorn in the Yorkshire flesh, acccumulating a priceless total of 218 runs. In fact, without the contribution of Gubbins, the hosts' first innings would have subsided, although more dropped catches from the white rose enabled Middlesex to get out of jail.
Champions Comprehensively Dismantled
The race for the 2016 County Championship took an unexpected turn when Somerset proceeded to trounce champions Yorkshire in their own backyard inside three days in a surprisingly one-sided encounter. As a consequence the team from the west country have closed to within one point of the Tykes, going into the final round of matches next week. Somerset also possess the advantage of a home fixture against relegated Nottinghamshire, whilst the white rose protagonists must redeem themselves at Championship hopefuls Middlesex! At least Yorkshire's flagging fortunes were revived by the failure of Middlesex to win at Lancashire. The wins have now dried up for Middlesex, but it may well be Somerset who look set to defy the Championship-chasing Tykes in a week's time, unless struggling Nottinghamshire do us a favour and stoutly resist Somerset's Championship chase.
The champions closed the gap on leaders Middlesex to a solitary point, courtesy of a dominant display against a mediocre Durham. Of course the home team's cause was assisted no end when the away team asked them to bat first. Other than suffering the early loss of Lyth, the hosts' top order built the foundation for this crushing win, and the superiority was reinforced when Durham were twice bowled out, without troubling the scorer excessively. All that remains now is the small matter of two matches against the other two teams in the top three. A win and a draw against Somerset and Middlesex just might be enough to secure a hat trick of County Championships.
Bad Light Thwarts Yorkshire
The reigning champions dominated their contest on the supposedly sunny south coast, but a combination of bad light and rain foiled their quest for a win. Although the Tykes might curse this misfortune, they can take some consolation from the fact that their Championship rivals Middlesex suffered a similar fate up in Birmingham where they too found foul weather on the final day defying their bid for victory. So it was honours even for the top two in the County Championship, although Yorkshire narrowed the gap from five points to four - courtesy of an extra batting point. Having said that, the champions are struggling of late to accumulate as many batting points as they should - and this deficiency may return to haunt them at the end of the month.
For what seems like the umpteenth time, Yorkshire have lost a one-day semi final and lost another limited overs match on their home venue. Adding to the sense of deja vu was the aberration that our top order batsmen failed yet again to compile the bulk of the runs, leaving the burden of the run chase to the all rounders and bowlers. There can only be so many times that big Bresnan can bail out the failures of the so-called specialist batsmen, and today Tim's heroic deeds came up just short, which I'm afraid is becoming a recurring theme for the white rose this year. What are the chances, dare I wonder, that the Tykes will end up as bridesmaids in the County Championship too? It certainly looks more than possible.
Champions Demolish Feeble Nottinghamshire
Just when you think you have watched the weirdest cricket match(es) along pops this little fellow on the sunny east coast to take us all by surprise. First Yorkshire's top order crumbles to a dreadful fifty-one for six, but just as we are about to throw rotten tomatoes at this shambolic effort, the middle order and tail come to the rescue again. Then after posting a face-saving 282, the county champions twice blow the paper-thin Nottinghamshire batting line up to smithereens. In the end, it was the threat of unwelcome weather seemed more likely to challenge the hosts, but happily they managed to take care of business in the allotted time. Now the Tykes are a mere five points adrift of Championship leaders Middlesex, with four matches to play. It's all pointing to an exciting finale at the end of September, but I still suspect that the white rose will come up just short yet again this year.
Congratulations to Northamptonshire Steelbacks for emerging triumphant for the second successive year in the English Twenty20 Blast. Fortunately they did us all a favour and defeated dastardly Durham in the final. Earlier, the Durham Jets had just squeezed past the Yorkshire Vikings in the second semi final. The latter looked well set for a potential victory, chasing a total of 157 which seemed well within reach. However, the Tykes were undone by outstanding seam bowling from the deadly duo of Rushworth and Wood whose efforts eclipsed that of Yorkshire's bowlers.