Cricket: Spinners' good old day

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The Independent Online
Lancashire 484 & 215 Yorkshire 457-8 dec &183 Lancashire win by 59 runs

THE ROSES match may have started out of character, with wayward bowling and cavalier batting, but it ended with the clock well and truly turned back yesterday when Lancashire exploited an old-fashioned turning pitch to obtain the important Championship win they needed with 5.2 overs to spare.

Yorkshire, required to make 243 from what proved to be 60 overs, initially made a good fist of it before succumbing to the left-armer Gary Keedy (5 for 35) and the off-spinner Gary Yates (4 for 69) who had played only five Championship matches between them this season.

If that is one comment of the shortcomings of the modern game, the way Yorkshire's batsmen perished against the turning ball would have made some of the grizzled old pros present weep into their pints of Tetley's last night.

For all that, it was a totally compelling match from first ball to last. Yorkshire's decision to use a day-old pitch was vindicated when it started to give the spinners lavish help in the last two sessions so Lancashire, with Wasim Akram not fully fit and Ian Austin belatedly joining Peter Martin on England duty, would have no complaints about that.

Keedy and Yates, with so little first-class bowling behind them this year, were under a certain amount of pressure to deliver the goods. They did it so well that from the moment the two Garys began to operate in harness, it was a case of "it's goodbye from me or it's goodbye from him".

Wasim bowled only five variable overs off a reduced run during which he looked fortunate to win an lbw decision against Michael Vaughan.

He was also spared what might have been a delicately balanced declaration when Lancashire's second innings ended earlier than seemed likely, thanks to Matthew Hoggard's three wickets for six runs in 10 balls.

Apart from Vaughan's mishap Yorkshire did well enough against the new ball, but the spinners were a different proposition. Yates found enough turn to operate round the wicket into Paul Hutchison's follow-through, while Keedy got the ball to turn so much at varying heights out of the rough at the other end that this was not the negative ploy it usually is.

Significantly, though, he obtained some of his success with deliveries which pitched on the stumps and turned, including Matthew Wood who, having batted with soft hands and a quick eye for errors in line and length, was disappointingly bowled playing back rather than forward.

By then David Byas had been well picked up at slip by Graham Lloyd trying, it seemed, not to play at Yates and the other crucial blow was the departure of Darren Lehmann who, having produced the requisite footwork to begin with, also played back rather than forward and was lbw to a ball that not only turned but failed to bounce.

He walked off shaking his head - only at his own error of judgment, one hopes - and another lapse followed when Richard Blakey was leg-before playing neither forward nor back.

By now the crowd, who had been jeering what they took to be time-wasting tactics by Lancashire, were reduced to silence and Yates and Keedy were not denied much longer.

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