Byas and McGrath put Yorkshire in command

Cricket: Hampshire 266 and 19-0 Yorkshire 427
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The Independent Online
MIKE CAREY

reports from Harrogate

Hampshire 266 and 19-0 Yorkshire 427

Yorkshire dug in yesterday, much as they used to in the days when championships were not so elusive. David Byas chiselled out his first hundred of the season, Anthony McGrath hit a championship-best 137 and some time today their bowlers will expect to exploit the advantage this pair's fourth- wicket partnership of 272 established.

Before play started, Robin Smith was summoned to the High Court to give evidence in the Botham-Imran case. It was not stated whether he planned to hold a benefit function while he was there, but most of his colleagues probably felt, all things considered, that he had a better day than they did.

Doubtless encouraged by a few well-chosen words from Malcolm Marshall, Hampshire bowled more purposefully than they had initially. But after its morning cut, the pitch offered only intermittent help for the quicker bowlers and when the ball had lost its hardness, Hampshire discovered that length and line alone got them only so far.

While the ball was moving about, Cardigan Connor brought one back to bowl Martyn Moxon off his pads and Michael Vaughan was picked up at slip at the second attempt; but a rare failure by Michael Bevan proved a false dawn for Hampshire and they went wicketless through the torrid afternoon sesssion.

After an unexpectedly lean summer so far, Byas was at his most selective. McGrath, as ever, played commendably straight and appears to have the priceless asset of picking up length early. Together they squeezed the life out of the Hampshire attack and did not need too much in the way of good fortune.

Hampshire badly needed a break but it never came. More often than not the ball flew powerfully off the middle of both bats. Byas, driving imperiously through the covers, reached three figures from 183 balls with 19 fours. McGrath followed him with 14 fours and a six from 193 deliveries. Not until their partnership had become the third highest for the fourth wicket in Yorkshire's history did James Bovill remove them both with the new ball on his way to figures of 5 for 58, his best of the season.

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