Cricket: White in the black

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Middlesex

YORKSHIRE had the day planned: win the toss on a cool sunny morning, bat first on a slow pitch that would wear and, to cheer the faithful, present Craig White with his county cap and Darren Gough with his Whittingdale award for July. It could hardly have gone more awry if the England committee had been in charge.

Martyn Moxon played his part, calling correctly and batting better than any of his colleagues before a furious downpour saved them from a humiliating lunch, the presentations taking place as lightning flashed. 'Is Craig the first Yorkshire player to be capped during the last act of Gotterdammerung?' asked the man from The Times.

There may be a Wagnerian end to the summer in Yorkshire. Northamptonshire showed the way a fortnight ago when they released two players; counties feel that they can no longer keep players for no better reason than potential. Performance will be the new criterion. You do not get too many second chances for New South Wales.

The two honoured yesterday are currently performing: White, 23, has 732 runs in all competitions and is a useful extra seamer and fine fielder. Gough, 22, has 52 wickets in all and his ability to strike in bursts will probably see him on to the 'A' tour of South Africa.

All this may have taken Yorkshire minds off a puerile batting performance. Middlesex did little more than bowl competently. Paul Grayson followed a short leg-side ball into Keith Brown's gloves; Richie Richardson played an amateurish sweep at a straight ball; Moxon went to cut and was dismissed by a sharp slip catch while Richard Blakey misjudged the pace. Play resumed for another eight overs just before six, enough time for White to be caught high at short mid-wicket.

Only 11.1 overs were possible at Grace Road, but Keith Fletcher's journey was not entirely wasted, David Millns demonstrating his recovery from achilles tendon surgery with an impressive new ball spell to reduce second-placed Glamorgan to 28 for 2. Leicestershire, meanwhile, announced that Laurie Potter will retire in September.

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