Cricket: Bailey thumbs a lift toward victory

Yorkshire 166 and 332 Northants 286 and 78-1
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The Independent Online
It Has taken Rob Bailey some time to inch his way towards 100 first-class wickets: the Northamptonshire captain managed just one last year with his occasional off-spin and before this match had taken just one this season. But yesterday at Headingley he came with a rush, accounting for victims 97, 98, 99 and 100 to swing a game of fluctuating fortunes in his side's favour.

Bailey would not have been bowling at all but for the accident that befell his regular off-spinner, Jeremy Snape, who is thought to have broken the thumb on his right hand while attempting a diving stop. On a brighter note for Snape, the injury could allow him to attend his brother's wedding today when he would otherwise have been occupied in the Sunday League match between the two counties.

Yorkshire, largely thanks to 48 from Darren Lehmann, bringing up his 1,000 runs for the season and strengthening his claims for a contract for next year, and a century partnership from Richard Blakey and Craig White, had wiped out their first innings deficit and were well on their way, it seemed, to setting their visitors a daunting target of more than 300. But then Bailey had White lbw and Blakey caught by Paul Taylor. Russell Warren's excellent catch that removed Alex Morris just before tea was a relief for the fielder after his terrible dropped catch had given Blakey a reprieve when the partnership with White had barely got going.

Bailey was even involved in the one wicket of the collapse that was not from his bowling, catching Darren Gough when he played a rising ball from Mohammed Akram into the slips.

The skipper, who also contributed 61 in their first innings, completed the good work for Northants by trapping Richard Stemp with one that turned sharply, and he finished the day with figures of 4 for 10.

That left Northants a target of 213, and they progressed steadily towards it despite the loss of Warren to Michael Vaughan, who in tandem with Stemp bowled tidily enough. The Yorkshire attack was deprived of Gough because of a knee injury that must be of concern to England with the fifth Test looming.