Rudolph reigns on wet turf
Yorkshire 394-3 v Worcestershire
Thursday 30 April 2009
Even the pace-sapping qualities of Headingley's lush new outfield could not stop Yorkshire establishing a commanding position as Worcestershire, already on the end of two defeats, endured what will certainly not be their last punishing day in the field this season.
Centuries from Jacques Rudolph – who is six short of a double-hundred – and Anthony McGrath helped Yorkshire put the promoted side under the cosh but it might have been much worse had shots that looked nailed-on boundaries not regularly pulled up short. After the installation of a £600,000 drainage system, the laying of new turf at the Test ground was completed less than a month ago and the grass cannot yet be cut to a normal length.
From Yorkshire's point of view, however, this was merely inconvenient. More embarrassing, after a wet night, was the loss of a sunny and dry morning session because of soggy conditions underfoot, which was just the thing the new system was meant to prevent.
The problem, apparently, is that the sand layer beneath the grass, heavily compacted to iron out some of the field's more pronounced undulations, needs aerating. Yet, to do that at this stage – with a tractor armed with spikes – would risk ripping up the turf, which is not yet bedded in.
Not that this was a problem in any way for Rudolph or McGrath against Worcestershire's injury-hit attack. Rudolph, who is worried that this season might be his last because of changes to the Kolpak rules, built on his 73 overnight with a willingness to scamper between the wickets that never flagged. Some 126 of his runs came in ones, twos and threes.
McGrath, the captain, was scarcely less crease-bound, although both men recognised the value of taking the aerial route. McGrath, who fell ultimately for 120 when he lofted Daryl Mitchell to extra cover, hooked Imran Arif for six and went to his fifty by dealing similarly with a short ball from Chris Whelan. Rudolph drove a six over spinner Gareth Batty's head to complete his 150.
At this, one imagines Michael Vaughan must have been cursing more, perhaps, than over his omission from the Test side. His contribution to Yorkshire's total was limited to 12 balls and five runs, his first full stroke of the day, driven through the covers in familiar style, being followed immediately by a catch at the wicket as he failed to safely fend away a shortish ball from Ashley Noffke.
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