Cricket: Whitaker opts for runs

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The Independent Online
Yorkshire 268 Leicestershire 363-6

Leicestershire, the champions, have a lot of ground to make up in this year's title race and for the most part they batted with appropriate urgency yesterday, with Darren Maddy and James Whitaker falling just short of worthy hundreds.

So far so good. But the questioned remained: how do you attempt to win a game that has already lost some eight hours to the weather? Whitaker's options included declaring behind and giving his opening bowlers two bursts with the new ball either side of tea.

Instead he took the old-fashioned approach, based no doubt on the theory that runs are best made when the going is straightforward, and batted on to overhaul Yorkshire, maybe thinking that their out-of-form batsmen would not relish a backs-to-the-wall struggle today.

If the ball turns a little more or the bounce becomes lower, so much the better. But yesterday, with the pitch dry and the sun even shining for lengthy periods, batting was a comfortable occupation and Maddy and Whitaker made the most of it in adding 150 in 38 overs.

True, there was a certain amount of playing and missing when the ball was new but Yorkshire did not break through until Ryan Sidebottom, 19 and left-arm fast-medium, marked his first impressive bowl in county cricket by finding a gap between Iain Sutcliffe's bat and pad.

It is a good week for the families of eminent cricketers. Ryan is the son of Arnie, the former Yorkshire all-rounder. Operating to a full length, he often beat the bat and looks to have genuine pace, which is not common in a bowler of his type. One day Arnie may be known as Ryan's father.

The day belonged to Maddy and Whitaker. Maddy's exemplary technique and consistent flow of runs suggests he ought to make the England A tour this year. If it is true that ability to play the on drive is a sign of pedigree, Maddy certainly has it.

With the ball coming on to the bat, Whitaker found he was able to hit through the line with abandon. He also enjoyed a day when the inside edges missed the leg stump and went for four. The result was 15 fours and a six and, whatever happens now, Yorkshire have a bit of batting to do.