Harmison set for recall but past leader is at a loss

Durham 362 & 303-5 dec Yorkshire 272 & 193-7 (Match drawn)
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The Independent Online

It seems the case for recalling Michael Vaughan will have to wait until after the first Test against West Indies at the earliest, following another disappointment for the former England captain as Yorkshire hung on to deny the champions a winning start to their title defence.

Given that Yorkshire appeared to have no intention of chasing the 394 needed for victory, Vaughan could be as cautious as he liked in his last innings before the England selectors convene at Loughborough on Tuesday.

Moreover, with almost all of the final day at his disposal after the 10th-over loss of Yorkshire's first wicket, Jacques Rudolph going for 29 after less than an hour, he knew that, with the rub of the green, the substantial score he needs to advance his claims could be only a matter of time at the crease. Yet after safely negotiating 95 deliveries for 20 runs with just one boundary, Vaughan paid the price for probably his first hint of carelessness, reaching for a ball outside off stump that he might earlier have left alone and nicking it to Phil Mustard behind the stumps.

The dismissal must have been all the more frustrating for Vaughan in the knowledge that Steve Harmison, against whom he had been given out on 24 to a brutish ball in the first innings, had been unable to dislodge him this time despite a determined effort. Harmison, who looks almost certain to regain his England place following the injury to Andrew Flintoff, is struggling with familiar demons yet for a couple of overs at least, with Vaughan in his sights, he was fired up and on the money.

Not that Graham Onions, who did get Vaughan's wicket and celebrated with a leap in the air, was in any way undeserving. In fact, on a pitch offering little in the way of help to the ball, he bowled superbly. After finishing with 5 for 56, if anyone had earned a glowing report from James Whitaker, the watching England selector, it was he.

Onions, had who earned favourable mentions this time last year before injuring a heel, was quick and aggressive but more consistently controlled than Harmison or Liam Plunkett, who was straining for form ahead of his appearance for England Lions on Thursday.

He found a beauty to bowl Rudolph and two others to have Joe Sayers and Tim Bresnan caught behind and he lured Anthony McGrath into playing at one similar to the ball that did for Vaughan. Bresnan, incidentally, can expect his name to be at least considered on Tuesday after bowling well in this match.

In the end, although Gerard Brophy fell to a rash hook shot, Yorkshire deserved credit for their resolve, given their tendency in recent history to lose wickets in clusters. This time, one after another appeared, like Vaughan, to be well set only to lose his wicket. When the overs ran out – critically they were reduced by nine, after a post-tea shower – they were seven down and mightily relieved.