Cricket: Byas restores some balance

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The Independent Online
Yorkshire. . . . . . . . . . . . . .214 and 240-4

Lancashire . . . . . . . . . . . . .404

YORKSHIRE have recovered splendidly from a perilous position in the latest renewal of Roses rivalry to take a lead of 50 into the final day tomorrow when it had once seemed possible that Lancashire could win the match inside three.

On the back of a fine innings of 143 by Nick Speak, who made Yorkshire pay heavily for a missed catch on Friday when he was on 23, Lancashire built a first-innings lead of 190. When Yorkshire then lost both their openers for 34, they looked vulnerable indeed.

But an excellent, unbeaten century by David Byas, the 11th of the left-hander's first-class career but his first on this ground, enabled Yorkshire to close at 240 for four. Byas hit 16 fours and a six as he guided the rookie Bradley Parker to a second half-century in consecutive games and then received excellent support from Paul Grayson, who finished on 56 not out in an unbroken stand worth 112 so far.

Once, on the Saturday of a Roses match, there would not have been a spare seat to be had here. This match has been scarcely better attended than any fixture in today's Championship; that is, poorly.

There are many reasons for this, not least the continuing decline of Yorkshire, whose harking back to distant, great days meets with cynicism now even in their own back yard.

At least Speak seems to find these occasions an inspiration. Tworuns short overnight, he soon steered a couple of safe singles to complete his third first-class century of the season and his second against Yorkshire, having made 105 when the counties met in a first-class friendly at Old Trafford in April. The innings, which contained 18 fours and three sixes, was the cornerstone of an admirable Lancashire fightback. They had been 85 for four on Friday and had the chance given by Speak been taken they would have 108 for five.

Richard Stemp's left-arm spin made some inroads yesterday, ending Ian Austin's solid 50 and whittling out Warren Hegg soon afterwards, both with the help of catches close to the wicket. But when Yorkshire took the new ball, Speak prospered anew, with Peter Martin and Glen Chapple chipping in profitably, too.

After Stemp was taken out of the attack, 59 runs were added in 10 overs with the new ball and no bowler offered greater encouragement to the batsmen than Darren Gough, who bowled with an air of anger and frustration and not much control. Lancashire's innings ended at 404 when Speak lofted to mid-on.

(Photograph omitted)

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