Cricket: Blakey's England reminder

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The Independent Online
Nottinghamshire 152 and 133-1

Yorkshire 404-9 dec

IN WHAT has been a poor summer for English wicketkeepers, Richard Blakey's form with the gloves and returning power with the bat are commanding attention.

Yesterday he applied a high- gloss finish to his second century of the season, a reminder that while all the England contenders can bat he is the only one capable of opening an innings on merit. He is now averaging just under 50 first-class runs, he has become one of the best forcing batsmen on Sunday afternoons and his partnerships with Sachin Tendulkar, whom he acknowledges has been a major influence in his revival, will be missed.

Blakey was helped by some experimental opposing bowling and the fact that Tuesday's lively surface had relapsed into its more usual somnolent nature. Yorkshire's sixth-wicket pair were able to cruise along with little alarm. Paul Jarvis, striking hard, hit eight fours in his 55 and 88 was added in 36 overs before the fast bowler was skittled.

Yorkshire then had a lead of 61 and Blakey was joined by a succession of partners, all of whom made significant contributions, especially Peter Hartley who, hitting just as vigorously, threatened to become the second man in the innings to overtake Blakey. His 69 off 83 balls included a huge six off Eddie Hemmings that won the final bonus point in the 100th over. Jeremy Batty struck two fours and a six in 16. Power at one end, polish at the other; the crowd loved it.

Blakey completed his 100 (which featured 15 fours), escaping once at 60 when he could have been caught behind off David Pennett. Nottinghamshire were batting again before tea and when they lost Mark Crawley to a fine outswinger, with five on the board, there was much talk of early departures today, for Paul Pollard has two broken fingers.

Whatever sense of excitement and crisis there may have been at the ringside, the old firm of Chris Broad and Tim Robinson made it all seem spurious. Robinson was totally unimpressed when Jarvis got an inside edge, the ball streaking past his off-stump to the boundary. Broad seemed to be yawning when he chopped Hartley to the boards. Their unbroken stand oEf 128 has kept the match alive.

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