Yorkshire – after finishing third in the Championship last year after a gallant effort that saw them still in contention on a dramatic final day of the season – signalled their intention to be challengers again this year, registering the first victory of the campaign.
Andrew Gale's side completed a nine-wicket victory over Worcestershire within three days, after their opponents, promoted last season and 20-1 on to be relegated again even before this match began, collapsed to 137 all out in their second innings, leaving Yorkshire to score just 56 to win.
Worcestershire lost their last seven wickets for 35 runs in the space of 12 overs, with leg-spinner Adil Rashid taking five for 37 for career-best match figures of 11 for 114 – the first time in his career that the 23-year-old has taken 10 wickets or more in a first-class match.
The Bradford-born all-rounder, who was Yorkshire's leading wicket-taker in the Championship last season with 57 scalps, again delivered a performance of eye-catching quality, drawing such help as he could from a slow pitch and using his repertoire of googlies, sliders and conventional leg-breaks to telling effect.
He impressed England's selector-in-chief Geoff Miller with his bowling on Friday but it seemed yesterday that the inconsistency – one reason for his failure so far to progress at international level – was still a problem when his first three overs cost 27 runs.
But Gale dismissed any idea of taking him out of the firing line as Moeen Ali and Alexei Kervezee attempted to hit him out of the attack and the Yorkshire captain was handsomely rewarded as Rashid then took five wickets in the space of 40 deliveries for only 10 runs conceded, the last three wrapping up the Worcestershire innings in the space of eight balls for no run.
Rashid has not been picked for England since making 10 appearances in Twenty20 and one-day internationals two years ago but more chances to represent his country must be surely be around the corner.
"It is uncanny for a spinner to be taking 11 wickets in the second week of April but the pitch turned in the second innings and he took advantage," Gale said.
"He has been knocking on the door for a couple of years now as far as England is concerned. He is not the finished article – there are areas of his game he still needs to improve. But he bowled superbly today."
Earlier in the day, Gerard Brophy, Yorkshire's deposed wicketkeeper, picked up where he left off on Saturday, when he dug his side out of a hole with a superb century. Aware that he will keep his place only through what he achieves with the bat now that Jonathan Bairstow has been given the gloves, the 35-year-old was not content merely to be 118 not out overnight, going on to be unbeaten on 177 as Yorkshire, once 155 for seven, finished on 368. Ryan Sidebottom, excellent in support in a stand of 149 for the eighth wicket, hit a career-best 61.
Brophy, though long established as English by residence, is from South Africa, which made him the odd man out in an otherwise home-grown Yorkshire team. The Headingley hierarchy have decided, on financial grounds, not to join the scramble to sign overseas players this year, which may be limiting to their prospects in the short term but might ultimately have benefits, for the national team as well as the county.
It has created, for example, an opening in this match for Joe Root, a 20-year-old batsman from Michael Vaughan's old club, Sheffield Collegiate, to be given his Championship debut. A tall, elegant right-hand batsman, Root bears more than a passing resemblence to the former England captain, even down to fielding in a wide-brimmed hat of the type Vaughan favoured.
Both Yorkshire and England, who he has represented up to under-19 level, are excited by Root's potential and the chance to develop has come much earlier than would have been likely in more prosperous times.
Root failed to score in the first innings but his 21 not out in the second innings included a six off veteran seamer Alan Richardson and he was able to enjoy the experience of celebrating victory at the crease after Adam Lyth struck the winning boundary.
The sober statistic for Worcestershire is that their last 38 matches in the First Division of the Championship have yielded just one win.Reuse content