IF YORKSHIRE lose this Championship match at Harrogate tomorrow they will have only themselves to blame. Northants, bowled out for a paltry 97 on Friday's rain-affected wicket, were allowed to lift themselves back on course for the title courtesy of some untypical Yorkshire generosity.
Malachy Loye, was dropped by Jeremy Batty off Paul Jarvis, Allan Lamb had an identical escape two overs later, and then the Northants' captain was let off again when wicketkeeper Richard Blakey missed a stumping.
It was a far cry from Friday when former Northants' player Mark Robinson returned the 10th best bowling figures in Yorkshire's history with 9 for 37 in a sharp team performance. Even the great Fred Trueman could manage a best of only 8 for 28 against Kent in his prime.
But to Northants' credit they were in no mood to dwell on the task and it was Robinson who caught the backlash as he was hit for 46 in his first 12 overs of the day.
After losing Alan Fordham at 26 when they batted again 71 runs behind, Northants pressed on at a pace with Nigel Felton (66) and Rob Bailey (68) rattling up 107 in even time. Young Loye demonstrated style and power in his rapid 48 and Lamb's 25 clearly showed his intent to make up lost time after a blank Thursday.
At this point however Yorkshire's hospitality was wearing thin and suddenly Northants, from a commanding position of 221 for 3, found themselves struggling at 275 for 9 before a last- wicket stand between Paul Taylor and Andy Roberts put on 30 valuable runs to give Northants a lead of 244 with one day remaining.
The man mainly responsible for Northants' sudden demise was Peter Hartley who could manage only one wicket in the first innings. This time however he found the St George's Road end much more responsive and he finished with five for 51.Reuse content