McGrath enters folklore

Leics 278 and 276-9 dec v Yorks 151 and 406-4: Yorkshire win by six wickets
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The Independent Online

Yorkshire are a county of tradition, steeped in the past, but yesterday one of their records - that of highest successful run-chase - was broken courtesy of a magnificent undefeated century by Anthony McGrath and some valuable support play by Ian Harvey and Craig White.

Yorkshire are a county of tradition, steeped in the past, but yesterday one of their records - that of highest successful run-chase - was broken courtesy of a magnificent undefeated century by Anthony McGrath and some valuable support play by Ian Harvey and Craig White.

The target when they started the second innings was an improbable 404 and while the pitch held few terrors other than a rare grubber, their first-innings total of 151 suggested a collective lack of form among the batsmen, and the previous record of 331 set in 1910 was nothing but a distant dream.

That, however, did not take into consideration the talent in the Yorkshire dressing-room - although it can lie frustratingly dormant - and equally importantly the ineptitude of the opposition, Leicestershire. Goodness, they are a poor outfit, hindered by lack of funds, devoid of team spirit if yesterday's body language is an accurate gauge and populated by cast-offs from other counties or countries courtesy of Kolpak.

Yorkshire have no such problems and that is why they should be challenging for promotion at the end of the season. Led capably by White, thankful that Michael Vaughan scraped a score together for the first time this season and thrilled that the former captain and England cast-off McGrath reminded all of his ability, they have won three of their four matches so far.

"We've started well but it's a bit early to be talking about promotion now. But certainly it's better to have the points on the board early than be chasing them at the end," explained McGrath. "We have learned from Warwickshire last year when they won early and then got draws."

It has been a curious few seasons for the powerful right-hander. An amiable chap, he enjoyed his elevation to Test cricket against Zimbabwe in 2003 but after a couple of failures against South Africa was reduced to bit-part cameos in the one-day circus. Even that is no longer available to him nowadays, but lots of cricket is, something England squad members rarely get when traipsing round the country, and that should benefit both him and the county.

His driving was exemplary and impressive on both sides of the wicket, while his composure suggested he could have carried on for the rest of the day. And at the start of play it looked like Yorkshire might need a chunk of it, which makes the fact that they completed the win just before lunch for only the loss of Harvey stunning.

"We knew the first half-hour was crucial and if we could get through that with Harv and me, we would be in a good position," said McGrath. "Friday night I didn't feel good at all, wasn't hitting it well but I went in overnight 70 not out so it was good today to hit them well and know that with the partnerships we were chasing 400. Someone told us it was our third highest or something so we all knew the historical importance."

It was important, both as the highest and as a crucial win. Next up are Durham on Friday, when the stars on both sides will be missing: no Vaughan or Matthew Hoggard for Yorkshire, and no Stephen Harmison for Durham. Good times for batsmen like McGrath then.

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