Wednesday, 25 July 2012
2ND: McGrath double-ton but bowlers fail the test
Anthony McGrath, above, crashed his way to an undefeated double century with 25 fours and five sixes – but Yorkshire’s bowlers simply could not deliver on the last day of their Second Eleven Champion ship match at Northampton.
Yorkshire set their hosts a target of 352 runs to win after declaring for the second time – but Northamptonshire knocked them off with 12 balls remaining to win by four wickets.
What a day of contrasting emotions and fortunes. Yorkshire continued their second innings from 168-1, leading by 219, and speculation was rife about when the declaration would come and how many overs would be left. I felt that a minimum of 350 would be required at about five an over - and the players must have read my mind.
Yorkshire pulled out at 12.20pm with 300-2 on the board and a minimum of 73 overs remaining. The second-wicket stand between Alex Lees and McGrath was the rock upon which the declaration was founded – and it ended only when Alex tried to reverse-sweep off-spinner Rob Keogh and Steven Peters snaffled a very acrobatic catch at slip.
The pair put on 253 runs from 317 deliveries in 195 minutes, and broke a 23-year old record set by Paul Grayson and Philip Robinson of 189 at Northampton in 1989. McGrath had not finished – he came to his double-century from 181 deliveries in 213 minutes, his 25 fours and five maximums meaning that he scored 62.5 per cent of his tally without having to run.
Northamptonshire had half an hour before lunch, and they showed their intentions from the off. They were 39-1 by the interval from seven overs, and thus they continued for the rest of the afternoon - eventually getting home at 6.03pm with four wickets and two overs left.
All the batsmen made useful contributions - but all the bowlers returned figures they were in no hurry to learn. Graeme Whiles at least will remember this game with some fondness as he claimed his first wicket in the Second Eleven Championship when he had Christian Davis well caught by Jack Leaning in the deep. Leaning also broke his bowling duck by having Ben Duckett caught behind.
This was a run fest which saw 1,225 runs scored for only half of the available 40 wickets - just under 100 runs short of the all-time aggregate record in Championship matches against Northamptonshire.
Day 2: McGrath chipped in with a timely wicket and then ran into form with 85 not out as Yorkshire ended the day 219 runs ahead with nine second-innings wickets standing. It was good to see that while the Yorkshire first team were busy securing their place in T20 Finals Day for the first time ever their Seconds were going about their own business with vim and vigour.
The day began with Northamptonshire 12-1, 299 behind Yorkshire on first innings. Ben Howgego and Rob Keogh got stuck in, extending their second-wicket partnership to 97, but it was McGrath who split them when Howgego was caught by Graham Whiles from a mistimed hook. Anthony may have missed out with the bat first time round, but his 1-12 from eight overs was what just what skipper Joe Sayers would have ordered at that time.
Keogh and Niall O’Brien added 50 for the third wicket until Danny Evans, who is trialling with Yorkshire after spells with Durham and Middlesex, took three wickets in four overs for 12 runs - all caught behind by Gerard Brophy - to reduce the hosts to 176-5, still 135 behind.
James Kettleborough - no relation to the ICC Elite Umpire and former Yorkshire and Middlesex batsman - and Christian Davis added 81 at five an over, but when Kettleborough was dismissed on the stroke of tea Northamptonshire promptly declared 51 runs behind.
Openers Alex Lees and Sayers began their attempt to set a defendable total immediately after tea with 43 overs remaining. Sayers went early, but that was the limit of the home side’s success as Lees completed his second half- century of the match and McGrath hit some superb shots.
Lees is 75 not out and McGrath 85 as we enter the final day. They have added 157 at more than four an over for the second wicket, and Yorkshire lead by 219. They will need lot more before they can feel safe as the pitch does not appear to be quite as helpful. Local knowledge suggests that pitches get better at Wantage Road the longer the game proceeds.
The stand between Lees and McGrath is the second three-figure partnership raised by Yorkshire in this game. It is like waiting for a bus - you wait all season, and then two come along at once.
McGrath had a stroke of luck after play had finished: he came in on 81 not out, having tried a reverse-sweep against off-spinner Keogh which had been given as four byes. The umpires instructed the scorers after close of play to alter that decision to four for the batsman for a thin bottom edge.
Day 1: Opener Alex Lees top-scored with 77, but Jack Leaning and Dan Hodgson also chipped in with half-centuries before Yorkshire declared their first innings at 311-6.
Without doubt this was the best day weatherwise and the best cricketwise of the season so far. Skipper Joe Sayers – who was to fall three short of his own 50 - duly won the toss under a cloudless sky, and chose to bat. He and Lees promptly added 98 for the first wicket - easily Yorkshire’s best opening stand in any Second Eleven game in 2012.
Anthony McGrath came and went – but it was a positive aspect of the day that Yorkshire, now 99-2, did not crumble. Lees and wicket-keeper Gerard Brophy added 70 for the third wicket, but the fourth wicket soon followed, and at 184-4 the innings was in the balance.
Leaning - with an unbeaten 68 from 120 deliveries, including 10 fours - and Hodgson, with 61 from 89, also with 10 fours, took their side into new territory: they added 125 for the fifth wicket, and passed the magic 300 to secure four batting points for the first time this season.
This stand was the first three-figure effort by the batsmen in any format in 2012.
Hodgson was dismissed to end the partnership 13 short of a fifth-wicket Championship record against Northamptonshire, and Ed Wilson soon followed. Sayers declared with a minimum of seven overs for the hosts to face.
Steven Cheetham - with Lancashire up to last year but now trialling with Yorkshire - got one through Steven Peters, and Oliver Hannon-Dalby caused some problem for both Howgego and Keogh. No further wicket fell, so Northamptonshire finished on 12-1.
Yorkshire are 299 ahead with full batting points in the bag and a good weather forecast for tomorrow.
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Unicorns v Yorkshire Vikings - YB40 (Chesterfield) Unicorns won the toss and elected to bat
189/9 (40 overs) Pyrah 8-0-34-3, Rashid 8-0-27-2, Patterson 8-0-35-2, Sidebottom 8-0-37-1, Plunkett 8-0-45-0.
Vikings 190-5 (38.5 overs) Lyth 58* Ballance 44 Vikings win by 5 wickets.
Vikings win by 5 wickets