Sidebottom and Brooks rapidly propel Yorkshire towards title

Yorkshire 532-9dec Notts 203 & 149-5 (Taylor 56no)

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With their hair flowing in the afternoon sunshine, Yorkshire’s opening attack propelled their team towards the title on Thursday. The partnership of Jack Brooks and Ryan Sidebottom has been a feature of the season, one sporting a band to keep his auburn locks in place as he runs to the crease, the other allowing his red curls to run free like Rita Hayworth in Gilda.

“We’ve both got dodgy long hair and I think we do complement each other really well,” said Sidebottom after the close of the third day’s play here. “Jack has been our outstanding bowler but we have got a very well-balanced attack.”

Between them they have so far taken 104 Championship wickets and were much too incisive for Nottinghamshire, purportedly their closest rivals for the title, for the second time in two days. They bowled a full length and invited the drive, which inevitably arrived, often with gay abandon.

“It was a great team effort with the way we plugged away,” Sidebottom added. “Notts got the ball to seam on the first morning but we realised we needed to pitch the ball up a little more. We tried to bowl as straight as we could and it’s worked for us so far.”

Yorkshire were detained in the first part of the day almost solely by the valiant efforts of their opponents’ captain, Chris Read. He batted with a care and studied determination which more or less completely eluded his charges. Eventually, within a sight of his first century for two years, he ran out of partners.

Although the last wicket put on 63, again reminding the upper order of their missed responsibilities, Yorkshire had no hesitation in imposing the follow-on. Notts, it seemed, would certainly put up a more resilient showing, a theory which lasted one ball.

Perhaps Steve Mullaney was unfortunate to be given out lbw to a ball which pitched outside leg but it was still an example of Sidebottom being on the button as it swung in late. Shortly after, Michael Lumb drove loosely at Brooks and was caught at third slip.

There followed two unfamiliar drops in the slip cordon, Alex Hales and James Taylor escaping, but there was always the sense that another wicket was imminent. Hales duly gave Brooks a hard return catch. Samit Patel fell contentiously to Steve Patterson, lifting his foot for Jonny Bairstow to whip off the bails.

That moved Read to observe later: “I don’t have a problem with it per se, but it’s always a questionable one. How long should you hold the ball before it’s dead? It’s not something I’ve ever done in 16 years of first-class cricket.”

But it was entirely within the laws and Patel was being a touch dozy. Yorkshire are not here for the ride, they are here to win the title for only the second time in 45 years. Before the close Riki Wessels played across the line and missed Sidebottom’s swerve. Yorkshire are five wickets away and 180 runs ahead.