Notts title hopes skittled as Yorkshire blow a Gale

Nottinghamshire 59 Yorkshire 260-8
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The Independent Online

Not everything went perfectly for Andrew Gale yesterday. Yorkshire's young captain was on 42, already comfortably the highest score of the day, when a delivery from Andre Adams hit him squarely where it hurts most.

He had five eye-watering minutes but the pain he and his team inflicted on Nottinghamshire, by contrast, may be permanent in regard to their prospects of the County Championship.

A pitch that was barely discernible from the outfield made winning the toss crucial, and it was Gale who called correctly. Bowling first allowed the Yorkshire seamers to exploit the conditions to their fullest, though the fact the ball was swinging was no reason for Paul Franks to waft at Ajmal Shahzad's sixth delivery, a widish half-volley. Alex Hales followed, hanging out his bat at a short delivery and seeing Adil Rashid take a brilliant diving catch at fourth slip, and soon the 18-year-old Bradford-born seamer Moin Ashraf found himself delivering his first over in the Championship with the scoreboard reading 4-2 after ten overs.

Ashraf's selection was another decision Gale got right. Tall, with a nicely flowing action, Ashraf swung the ball at a lively pace. As important, he pitched it up, and he may never bowl a better ball than when he dismissed Adam Voges with a quick outswinger which started on leg stump and clipped the Australian's off bail.

Samit Patel followed to a delivery which was almost as unplayable, and the Notts batting, which has been disconcertingly fragile since the return to Australia of David Hussey, just folded. Oliver Hannon-Dalby pinned three middle-order batsmen leg-before with deliveries that seamed back in, and Shahzad returned to dispose of the tail.

The question now was whether the Notts bowling attack, without the England trio of Stuart Broad, Ryan Sidebottom and Graeme Swann, could use the conditions as effectively.

The short answer was no. Darren Pattinson bowled appallingly, and the hefty Luke Fletcher was ineffective. Only Adams offered a consistent threat, dismissing the openers Jacques Rudolph and Adam Lyth in consecutive overs to have Yorkshire 31-2.

But Gale attacked from the start, if streakily, and played and missed often enough at Adams for the bowler to give him a verbal volley. He was hit amidships several times, but settled superbly. His hundred, off just 85 balls, contained 17 boundaries, and by the close his unbeaten 147 put Yorkshire 201 ahead.

"I would have taken that at the start of the day," a delighted Gale said. "I don't think we bowled a bad ball."