Bairstow's grit gets Yorkshire home and keeps title race alive

Nottinghamshire 59 &amp; 413 Yorkshire 264 &amp; 209-5 <i>(Yorkshire win by five wickets)</i>
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The Independent Online

It was fitting that Jonathan Bairstow should hit the run which gave Yorkshire a victory that leaves the County Championship wide open going into next week's final round of matches.

Red of hair like his father, the former England wicketkeeper David, but perhaps rather more composed of temperament, the 20-year-old had come in when Yorkshire were in serious danger of losing a game that had appeared to be theirs for the taking after they bowled out their opponents for just 59 in their first innings.

Needing 209 to win, and given a good start by Adam Lyth and Jacques Rudolph, three wickets in 18 balls, all taken by Darren Pattinson, left Yorkshire teetering on 95 for 4. Having previously seen his team home in similar situations twice this season already, however, Bairstow is acquiring a reputation as a finisher, and accompanied first by Gerard Brophy and latterly by Adil Rashid, he played beautifully to seal a five-wicket win.

"The momentum had swung their way a little, but 'Bluey' seems to thrive under pressure, and he and Gerard were phenomenal," said Yorkshire's relieved captain Andrew Gale.

His young team could still pull off a remarkable double. A Lord's final beckons if they beat Warwickshire in the semi-final of the CB40 Trophy at Scarborough on Saturday, while victory over Kent in their final championship match next week could see the championship pennant hanging in Headingley's garish new pavilion.

"Notts are still on top, so they have to be favourites, and they'll rightly believe they can go to Old Trafford and win," said Gale. "But to be still be in with a decent shout ourselves is a great effort. We were pretty much written off at the start of the season, maybe understandably when you look at the average age of the side, which includes so many lads who have come through the academy.

"I'm just proud to be part of the group. I've played for Yorkshire at various age levels since I was 10, so the prospect of leading the county out at Lord's is pretty special. But the Championship – well, that would just be something else altogether."

Well though Yorkshire played, Nottinghamshire are entitled to consider themselves unfortunate to have been deprived of England trio Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and particularly Ryan Sidebottom, while Yorkshire could use Ajmal Shahzad, called up by England as cover for Broad but then released to play. Shahzad, bowling with real fire, returned match figures of 8 for 129.

Even so, Notts captain Chris Read remained upbeat after a second-innings batting display which indicated the spirit in the camp remains strong. "We batted really well in our second innings, and when they were 90-odd for 4 we felt we had a massive chance, so who's to say we can't go to Lancashire and beat them next week," said Read. Nor was he concerned that Lancashire will surely prepare a dry, turning wicket to suit their spinners – not Nottinghamshire's strongest suit. "We've played on surfaces suited for our seamers here this season, so it would be fair enough," Read added.

For Bairstow, the manner in which the win was sealed epitomised what Yorkshire have achieved this season. "It could have gone either way, but we just got our heads down and backed ourselves," he said. "Everyone said we'd struggle this season, but we've proved them wrong through hard work, determination and gutsiness."