Cricket: Gough seizes his chance to impress

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP: Penney prospers for champions Essex take their chances Lancashire discover consistency
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The Independent Online
Warwickshire 306 Yorkshire 7-0

Exercises in futility are not uncommon in county cricket. Normally, though, these take part later in the season, and then only between sides languishing between mid-table and bottom place, with little more to look forward to than their end-of-season party.

It is definitely not something expected from teams jostling for position at the head of the table, as Yorkshire and Warwickshire currently are, the pair being top and fourth respectively before yesterday's meeting at Headingley.

There were, however, mitigating circumstances; both sides had missed out on a Lord's final the day before, losing matches that they were well poised to win. When the making or breaking of a season rests upon such things, mass disappointments are inevitable.

Inevitably it was the players who put Wednesday's disappointment behind them who prospered most. Trevor Penney's watchful century was nicely countered by a timely performance from Darren Gough, whose 4 for 66 was achieved in front of Ray Illingworth.

Gough, who bowled well for England in the one-day matches against India, was not selected for the first Test. If that came as a disappointment, he has gone about responding with deeds rather than dogma.

It was, however, Peter Hartley, his new-ball partner, who started the sequence when he got Wasim Khan to play over one well up in the left-hander's blockhole. Gough removed Andy Moles with a corker that slipped under the bat, a ball he later reproduced to get rid of Dougie Brown, just as the all-rounder began to look set.

If Gough's bowling raised the majority of Yorkshire supporters' spirits, there were still those wondering what might have been had such a policy been pursued during the frenetic last few overs on Wednesday, rather than on a balmy day at home.

Warwickshire's supporters could almost be forgiven for thinking the same and, whereas on Wednesday they had fallen in a welter of run-outs, there was not even the slightest hint of a poorly judged run yesterday, despite only four players making double-figure scores.

Led by Penney, whose 125 took a shade under five hours and contained 11 fours and two sixes, the visitors struggled to cope with a slow flat pitch.

Only Dominic Ostler was able to dominate the bowling, striking the ball with immense power before a miscued pull gave Chris Silverwood a caught and bowled.

It was the wicket that awakened the home side from their semi-final torpor, who, but for Penney's painstaking care, would have ended the day in a far more commanding position. Apart from his partnerships of 116 with Ostler and 73 with Dermot Reeve, Warwickshire looked more out of sorts than their opponents.

There are many who feel Yorkshire's strong showing this season is due to a policy of non-interference from the committee - something that has never happened in the past - and talk is that the captain, David Byas, has just been allowed to get on with it. Such progressive thinking has been late in coming, and yet no one can accuse Yorkshire of being behind the times on other matters, which includes amongst other things their very own web site on the Internet.

But if people have spent decades trying to get through to the committee, it seems that a Raj K Tikia, an Indian based in New Orleans, has broken through on the Net, apparently in order to have a net. Tikia e-mailed Yorkshire to ask for an intensive coaching session at their indoor school. Yorkshire obliged and Tikia travelled the 4,500 miles last week. He has his final net tomorrow.

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