Cricket: Parker spoils leaders' day

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The Independent Online
Yorkshire 304-9 v Warwickshire

THE Championship leaders appeared to find their feet here yesterday after their recent unsteadiness, emerging from an evenly balanced opening day in satisfactory order, if not quite with convincing evidence that the North Sea air will necessarily invigorate their title challenge.

Until mid-afternoon, the day went as well as they could have reasonably hoped, given the battering their bowlers suffered in the two rounds before this, in which they conceded more than 1,000 runs. On a slow, flat wicket they went about their business with admirable efficiency, and Yorkshire, who had chosen to bat first, lost half their batsmen for 175.

It appeared that Yorkshire, next to bottom of the table, would struggle from there to put many more than 230 on the board. But as the ball grew softer so Warwickshire's concentration wavered, perhaps, and these factors combined probably accounted for Yorkshire's recovery to a much more respectable total and three batting points.

Yorkshire's upper order had shown what was possible, but, with the exception of David Byas, all played themselves in only to get out without drawing a full dividend. Even Byas, Yorkshire's leading run scorer this season, was guilty of under-achievement now. The forceful left-hander struck eight fours in reaching 57 but then edged to Brian Lara, who took a neat catch at slip, when he shaped to drive Richard Davis but checked his stroke.

Then Bradley Parker and Peter Hartley shared a sixth- wicket partnership of 94 that saved face for Yorkshire. Parker, recording his third half-century in consecutive games, hit a career-best 62 while Hartley's 61 was his highest of the season.

Set a superb example by Tim Munton and Gladstone Small, Graeme Welch bowled an eye-catching spell in the morning. He was less impressive in the afternoon, but he nipped in to claim two of the tail, however, to return 4 for 69, the best figures of his debut season.