Cricket: Wood takes a leaf out of the Boycott book

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The Independent Online
Sussex 129 and 91-4

Yorkshire 252

BY RIGHTS, under a cloudy sky, the ball should have continued to swing here yesterday at least as much as it had done under blue skies on Thursday but, perversely, there was nothing like the same extravagant movement in the air. Yorkshire's Matthew Wood, who had defended more surely than anyone on the first day, continued to bat most capably, reaching 118 not out.

He took them to 252, a lead of 123 which looks like being decisive in a match which should bring them 22 points but which may not be quite enough to take them past their Red Rose neighbours.

No praise can be too high for the way in which the 21-year-old Wood batted while making his fifth Championship 100 in his first full season. This was an innings built on an unshakeable concentration, as his 339 minutes at the crease would suggest. He is a stocky young man and his whole being bristles with cheerful defiance.

It may be early days to say this, but Wood could become exactly the player England needs to give the middle order ballast. Thirty-five years ago, a young Yorkshireman made a cautious start to county cricket in the lower- middle order, basing his game on the reasonable philosophy that if you do not get out, you have a chance - his name was Geoffrey Boycott. Some player, some chance. Wood seems similarly single-minded but he has a good range of strokes and is less likely to bore us all to tears.

Yorkshire's last three wickets batted on until just after lunch. Wood found a good partner in Chris Silverwood, who played some decent strokes of his own and they added 71 for the eighth wicket.

Wood had one piece of good luck, when a fiendishly difficult chance went down at first slip off James Kirtley when he was 71, otherwise his defence was impeccable and he played some attractive strokes off the back foot.

At 216, Silverwood drove at Mark Robinson, who again bowled beautifully without too much luck, and was brilliantly caught one-handed by Chris Adams diving far to his left at second slip.

Wood's 100 came with a force for three through mid-on off Jason Lewry. When his last two partners had been dismissed, Wood had faced 273 balls and hit 14 fours.

Sussex lost Toby Peirce in the second over, caught at first slip driving at Paul Hutchison. Adams then played a few resounding strokes through the off-side and then a pull for six off Silverwood before driving, head in the air, at the next ball and losing his off-stump. It was a careless stroke.

Bad light intervened half an hour after tea by which time Rajesh Rao had been bowled pushing at Silverwood. They came back for three more overs and Keith Newell lost his off-stump to Silverwood, with Sussex still 32 runs behind.

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