Cricket: Spell of pace swings game

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The Independent Online
Yorkshire 457-8 dec

Lancashire 484 & 109-4

AN EXPLOSIVE piece of new-ball bowling by the tall left-armer Paul Hutchison, who took four wickets for two runs in 25 deliveries, dramatically changed the face of a hitherto high-scoring Roses match here yesterday.

Lancashire had been reduced to a decidedly edgy 27 for 4 when John Crawley and Warren Hegg gratefully accepted the umpire's offer of the light. This provided eight overs respite after which the fifth wicket pair batted enterprisingly to leave the match perfectly poised.

The famous Yorkshireman who opined that a week is a long time in politics might agree, were he still with us, that three days can be even more remarkable in cricket. Especially if you get stuck in the way Yorkshire did here.

First, having been lambasted all around Leeds on the first day, they carefully batted themselves back into contention, a performance which owed much not only to a disciplined all-round team effort, but also to some variable bowling on a pitch which, though showing signs of wear, held up pretty well.

Hutchison has more raw pace than most bowlers of his type and this was the platform he needed. The crucial differences to the first innings were that this time he not only got his line right and hit the pitch hard, but the plentiful good balls found the edge and the catches stuck, some spectacularly.

He began with a perfectly pitched outswinger which the left handed Nathan Wood, committed to play, edging to the wicketkeeper.

The luckless Neil Fairbrother could do nothing about the first ball he faced, which not only bounced on him, but turned him round and had him brilliantly caught at full stretch by James Middlebrook at third slip.

Soon afterwards Andrew Flintoff, currently suffering the sort of lean spell that haunts all quality youngsters sooner or later, stabbed unconvincingly at a rapid delivery angled across him to be superbly caught by David Byas. And he was followed in the next over as Graham Lloyd played on.

Byas himself had been the cornerstone of Yorkshire's innings, becoming, somewhat improbably you may feel, the first batsman to make four centuries in one season on this famous ground.

His anchorman's role was the perfect foil for Darren Lehmann's strokeplay, but equally valuable work was done in the engine-room of the side where Richard Blakeley completed an unbeaten half-century and the two bowlers, Gavin Hamilton and Middlebrook, confirmed their rich promise as all-rounders.