Brophy finds his timing to dig Yorkshire out of hole
Worcestershire 286 Yorkshire 284-7 (Yorkshire trail by 3 runs)
Sunday 10 April 2011
Clearly there is nothing like a challenge to bring out the best in some cricketers, as Gerard Brophy would doubtless confirm after his century dragged Yorkshire out of an unexpected hole against relegation favourites Worcestershire here.
The 35-year-old South African learned in the winter his position as first-choice wicketkeeper had been handed to the rapidly progressing Jonathan Bairstow and that he would have to prove worthy of a place for his batting if he were not to spend his benefit season on the fringes of Andrew Gale's ambitious side.
Given that Bairstow scored 918 runs last season – 170 more than Brophy in his best campaign – it was evident he had his work cut out, particularly with Joe Root, another product of Yorkshire's academy, pushing for starts. As if that were not pressure enough, Brophy's contract is up at the end of this season.
His response was pretty much perfect. Yorkshire, having let Worcestershire off the hook on Friday when they advanced from 197 for 8 to 286 all out, tailender Matt Mason plundering runs, then stumbled unimpressively to 155 for 7 in reply. Mason and his partners in the "dad's army" attack – he is 37 while his Australian compatriot Damien Wright and Alan Richardson are 35 – stuck to the virtues of disciplined line and length, and one batsman after another followed the moving ball and conspired to give half a dozen catches in the arc between wicketkeeper and gully.
Root, plainly nervous on his Championship debut, could be forgiven for nudging his 12th ball into the hands of Vikram Solanki at first slip, but others were less deserving of indulgence. Bairstow was among the more careless, playing loosely at a ball from Mason to be snaffled at third slip, as was Adil Rashid, so impressive with the ball on Friday, who thick-edged to Gareth Andrew at gully as Wright claimed his third wicket on debut.
Adam Lyth, who began with some impressive shots for four through midwicket, could do little about a good ball from Wright, while the delivery that ended dogged opener Joe Sayers's first knock in almost a year had its merits too.
Gale seemed to be the man to carry the responsibility of rebuilding the innings but he too perished relatively cheaply. Instead it was Brophy who found the resolve that was needed.
Never giving more than the sniff of a chance, he surpassed the best of his two first-class centuries for Yorkshire to be 118 not out at the close, never achieving quite the style points that Lyth, for example, characteristically revealed, but hitting some agreeable shots in his 17 boundaries.
Ryan Sidebottom provided magnificent support with his first half-century in first-class cricket since 1998 as Yorkshire closed only two runs in arrears at 284 for 7.
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