Bevan settles into new home with aplomb

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The Independent Online
reports from Headingley

Worcestershire 208-6

Yorkshire 212-4

Yorkshire win by 6 wickets

Raymond Illingworth, the chairman of the England selectors, was at Old Trafford so he missed seeing two of his winter casualties, Graeme Hick hitting the highest-ever Benson and Hedges score at Headingley (109) and Darren Gough taking two wickets in three spells, the first of which was quick.

Craig White was a much less successful bowler, struggling to find rhythm after his sore shins and strained side, but in company with his fellow Australian Academy graduate, Michael Bevan, he batted extremely fluently in a stand of 99. Bevan has so far compiled scores of 95, 140, 113 not out and now 83 not out for Yorkshire. His first home appearance had some 3,000 ringside aficionados purring on this brilliant spring day.

The power of his strokeplay is well advertised, especially his cutting. His late adjustment to defence on a typical April surface was almost as impressive, suggesting that his days in the Lancashire League were well spent.

Yorkshire's margin would have been overwhelming but for Hick's innings, and that was marred by two drops; at second slip when he was 16 and at mid-off when 78, Peter Hartley, Yorkshire's best bowler, suffering twice. Gough tried to bowl too fast in his first spell and was more effective in his last, while Richard Stemp's figures did not do him justice.

Stemp has returned from India a more confident and authoritative bowler. He looked to have been promoted a step above his station when called into the England squad last summer; now he looks the part.

Tim Curtis lost the toss on a green-striped pitch that did not quite fulfil its promise of movement. Curtis looked in the best form until undone by the bounce, Hick dismissed fears about his back by pulling two sixes as he capitalised on his luck, but no other batsman troubled a mostly accurate attack for long.

When both Yorkshire's openers departed for 31 Worcestershire's hopes rose. They fielded better - Curtis ran out David Byas with a direct hit from square of the wicket - and by tea Yorkshire, with 30 overs and seven wickets remaining, were more than half-way there. White drove a trifle rashly at Neal Radford at 165 before Richard Blakey joined the gold award winner, Bevan, who finished the match with an astonishing straight six over the press box.

Diehards will be pleased to read that some Leeds traditions are undisturbed: neither the scoreboard nor the PA system were functioning for the start of the season, the Grandstand Bar proclaimed "No Entry" on two doors and the third was locked.

More reports,

Cricket Scoreboard, page 38

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