Assured Wright paves the way

Yorkshire 340 and 145 Gloucestershire 276 and 210 Gloucs won by nine wickets
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FOR Yorkshire to have a realistic chance of saving the match at Acklam Park yesterday, they needed to bat until lunch. As they lost their last two wickets before elevenses were finished, they were in some bother. Gloucestershire were left to make 210 to win, a target unlikely to prove beyond them unless they batted badly on a good batting pitch. This was not entirely inconceivable, given that it had already happened several times in the match. Not again, however.

The opening pair, Tony Wright and Dean Hodgson, were four runs short of their fourth century opening partnership of the season when the latter was out, caught at short leg. Both have been in good form this summer and it showed.

While Richard Stemp bowled seven consecutive maidens at the start of his first spell, it was not wicket-taking stuff. His was a peculiar strategy. Yorkshire's only hope of winning was to bowl out the opposition - unless Stemp thought he could bore them into the pavilion. He had the good sense to abandon this policy in the afternoon, but the bad sense to replace it with a combination of short balls outside off-stump and full tosses on leg, which threw doubt on his international credentials once more.

When Yorkshire won their first three Championship matches, there was romantic talk of the title returning to the broad acres after 28 long, lean years. This loose-tongued twaddle has been put firmly into place since, as four defeats in five matches testify.

The batting, especially in the middle order, has been feeble, where numbers five, six and seven have not done much more than score runs equivalent to their batting position. It was said before the Middlesbrough game that some of their players were drinking at the last-chance saloon, and those who picked the team will be spoilt for choice in deciding who has imbibed too much. What Yorkshire need most of all, of course, is the return of Martyn Moxon, their captain and best batsman, and this will not happen until August.

Gloucestershire's season has been positively jaunty by comparison. They have not lost in the Championship since the opening fixture, when Surrey won after being forced to follow on. Under the captaincy of Jack Russell, the county have developed an unexpected assurance, and had pulled themselves back into this match in extraordinary fashion on Friday. Javagal Srinath, who took 10 wickets in the match, has now taken 40 in the Championship.

It was all largely academic yesterday. Wright made his third century of the summer in 212 balls with 19 fours, most of them beautifully struck. He and Rob Cunliffe, with his first Championship 50, put on an unbeaten 114 and saw Gloucestershire home with the minimum of fuss.