Lehmann seals Yorkshire win in epic Roses battle

Lancashire 373 and 314 Yorkshire 531 and 158-3 Yorkshire win by 7 wickets
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The Independent Online

Yorkshire won a memorable 236th Roses match at 3pm yesterday and will print a limited edition of a replica scorecard to commemorate Darren Lehmann's lustrous 252, the highest-ever score in the series. It will also record a substantial victory over the old enemy that may prove to be the crucial result in their pursuit of the Championship.

Yorkshire retain their 14-point lead over Somerset, with a game in hand, and although the Westerners have probably the slightly easier programme Yorkshire may well catch the current champions, Surrey, twice, when they are debilitated by England calls and injuries.

Yorkshire, too, have the strength in depth for although they could lose three players to England at Trent Bridge they do have Michael Vaughan and Matthew Hoggard back in training.

There was a whiff of old Roses about this game: capacity crowds of around 5,000 a day which would have been greater had two thirds of the ground not been closed. Cricket in almost continual sunshine, some excellent batting, not least from John Crawley, with an innings of 73 followed by 113, some rousing hitting from the tailenders of both sides, two extraordinary bursts, with bat and ball, from Darren Gough and, above all the glittering peak of Lehmann's innings, 252 off 288 balls.

The hard time was had by the spinners on a pitch that stayed bland throughout, that forced the seamers to think first of length and line and that should have helped the spin bowling by this fourth day. In an old Roses match, either side would have had a spinner (say Johnny Wardle or Roy Tattersall) who could have continued at one end, by variations in length, pace and flight, for two days and then attacked on a worn pitch in the second innings.

This match suggested that Lancashire's more experienced pair, Chris Schofield and Gary Keedy, are short of practice. Yorkshire's beginner, off-spinner Richard Dawson, was allowed to continue even when under bombardment but the Yorkshire captain, David Byas, did have more runs in hand.

If Yorkshire's victory seemed a formality on the resumption, Lancashire 122 ahead with eight wickets down, there were a few warning reminiscences.Three years ago Keedy and Gary Yates spun Lancashire to a win on this ground; in 1924 Yorkshire, in their second innings, needed 57 to win on the third morning here and were bowled out for 33 by Cec Parkin and Dick Tyldesley.

Another 16 overs were needed to winkle out the last two Lancastrians, the ninth-wicket partnership of 78 being ended only by a superb pick-up and throw from Gary Fellows at cover that ran out John Wood. Keedy looked like proving equally stubborn until Craig White, stretching himself, found the edge with a faster one.

So the final target was 157 and trepidations the Yorkies may have had were quelled almost instantly by another dashing innings from Matthew Wood. After his 1,000 runs in his debut season of 1998 his career had all but collapsed; last winter he paid his own fares to get a coaching job in Western Australia and his dedication persuaded Byas that he should be given another chance.

So far this season he has hit 599 runs in 13 innings and this 51 in 22 overs gave Yorkshire the foundation they needed. Keedy, winning turn, bowled White with his second ball and had Wood caught at silly point; Lehmann dispelled all doubts with a brutal 48 off 24 balls that left Lancashire's spinners shell-shocked.

Yorkshire introduce a new opening batsman, Chris Taylor, a 20-year-old from Leeds, against Surrey here tomorrow. If Chris Silverwood is again retained by England then Chris Elstub will deputise.

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