Yorkshire revealed, in all its glory, the stuff of champions. They spent the first part of Wednesday grinding down Nottinghamshire’s attack with a grim resolve which had only one purpose. Having achieved almost all they intended, they then burst through their opponents’ top order.
It was not always pretty but it was hugely efficient and inexorable. It seemed to embody all that Yorkshire means in the game and it was difficult to imagine that the sides of yore who became a by-word for hard-nosed professionalism could have done it with more diligence.
If there was a mild surprise it was that no one scored a century to add to Adam Lyth’s on the first day. Gary Ballance and Tim Bresnan came close. Ballance went at a run an over for 17 overs in the morning, preparing – as is his method – to move swiftly through the gears. But he found himself stuck on the crease against the admirable veteran Gary Keedy and was lbw for 99.
Ballance at least has recent familiarity with three figures. It has been seven years and 87 innings since Bresnan made a hundred and the wait goes on. He played with an earnestness befitting what was at stake. He hit the bad balls with a clatter down the ground but his mission, it was clear, was to make Nottinghamshire tire and sweat.
“There was a lot of criticism about how we batted but it was about keeping them out there and letting the game take its natural course,” said Bresnan. “As soon as we passed 400 it was just a case of grinding them into the dirt.
“It’s a game that is very difficult for us to lose from this point, I feel. We know that if we have been a day and a half in the field, you come off and you’re weary. The way we played was how we should have played.”
It was said with a smile but also with a hint of bloody-mindedness, which is precisely as it should be.
Bresnan was instructed to accelerate as he came within sight of his fourth career hundred. But on 95 he clobbered his 190th ball to midwicket and Yorkshire declared.
Fifteen overs remained but Yorkshire needed only six of them to disrupt Nottinghamshire. Jack Brooks was noticeably quicker than any other bowler in the match, while left-armer Ryan Sidebottom has been around long enough to know that a fuller length might yield rewards.
Alex Hales edged a peach from Brooks that moved late and just enough, Steve Mullaney sparred outside off to Sidebottom and was caught at second slip, and three balls later James Taylor played a reckless drive and was held at third. Samit Patel was squared up by Brooks and also held in the cordon.
It was possible to fear the worst for Notts at that point and any criticism of Yorkshire’s approach was swept away with the home side’s top order. The table says these are the Championship’s top two sides but on the evidence of this match so far Yorkshire are followed by daylight.Reuse content