Lehmann sparks revival

County Championship: Import takes charge as Yorkshire claw back initiative in Roses game before deluge

Neville Cardus, the sage of the
Manchester Guardian, would have recognised the dour nature of the cricket in the second Roses match of the summer. But he would have been bemused by the crowd.

Neville Cardus, the sage of the Manchester Guardian, would have recognised the dour nature of the cricket in the second Roses match of the summer. But he would have been bemused by the crowd.

In his time, Headingley would have been seething with 30,000 or so, and southerners who found a place to sit would be told the game was none of their business.

Yesterday, while there were plenty of empty seats, there were some 3,000 spectators and, for a county game on a Saturday, that is not a metaphor for decline. On the contrary, it suggests there is life in the Championship yet.

Those who did attend saw some good cricket too, before the deluge ended play at 4.20pm, with Lancashire appearing to impose themselves before Yorkshire's gutsy fightback, led by the excellent Australian import Darren Leh- mann, who got to within 56 runs of being the first to 1,000 runs. But this Roses match was not merely the recurrence of an ancient rite. With Surrey out of action, the winners of this game go to the top of Division One.

The wicket was still seaming, and the bounce was variable. That dictated the style of Yorkshire's innings. Michael Vaughan, neat and composed, watched the ball as though it were an offensive weapon for the first 45 minutes of the day, during which he scored exactly one run.

This may sound unap-petising, but Vaughan is a pleasure to watch. The side of his game on display here was his ability to leave the ball.

At various times Glenn Chapple and Michael Smeth-urst raised their heads or hands to the sky as the ball passed over the stumps or close by them, but Vaughan always gave the impression that he knew its exact trajectory.

With an hour gone, Vaughan was on 12. There were few boundaries to be had on a slow outfield, but he was striking the ball cleanly. Yorkshire had lost Simon Widdup, Vaughan's opening partner, to a thin edge off Chapple for 16, but the score was beginning to click along, and before long, Vaughan was in the 30s, and looking set for a decent score.

At which point Smethurst bowled what might have been a slower ball, though Vaughan said it held up on him. Whatever, his timing went to pot and he spooned an easy catch to the bowler. Pity, because he is an asset, and ought to score plenty of runs for Yorkshire and for England.

Thirty runs later, two more wickets had fallen. Anthony McGrath's half-hearted pull popped straight to Andy Flintoff - who was nimble in the field, unlike some of his team- mates - at backward square leg, and Craig White shuffled across his wicket and was lbw. Yorkshire were 108 for 4, and on the brink

White's dismissal brought David Byas in to bat with Darren Lehmann. Byas has been having a poor season, but the pair of them had combined effectively to put on 130 together in Yorkshire's last Championship match, against Somerset at Scarborough, and they began to play as though they might do so again.

Lehmann, still wearing a short-sleeved sweater in the last week of July, was clearly hitting the ball harder than his colleagues. He had scored four boundaries in his 50, which came in only 61 balls, and more followed.

When the downpour began at teatime, the stand was worth 95. Yorkshire had got their first batting point, and it was Lancashire who will be contemplating the brink this morning.

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