A century partnership between Jacques Rudolph and Andrew Gale hauled Yorkshire out of trouble by tea-time against Hampshire at Headingley today.
Yorkshire’s opening match of their 2008 Liverpool Victoria County Championship campaign had got off to a shaky start, beginning with the loss of England captain Michael Vaughan on the stroke of lunch.
Vaughan’s departure will almost certainly fuel fears for his form – he worried pundits after being out for a six-ball duck against Bradford-Leeds University last week and then scoring just two runs off 23 balls in his second innings.
In fact his 35-ball stay today contained some wonderfully confident shots, he hit the New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond for three superb boundaries and is unlikely to be unduly worried himself.
Not long afterwards Vaughan was followed into the home dressing room by fellow opener Joe Sayers and Yorkshire stand-in captain Anthony McGrath.
But with the score at an uncomfortable 54-3 Rudolph, a Kolpak signing, and Dewsbury’s own Gale, got their heads down and grafted all afternoon as they added 107 runs for the fourth wicket.
But, just as had happened with Vaughan, who departed on the stroke of lunch, so Yorkshire lost another wicket on the stroke of tea when Rudolph edged off-spinner Greg Lamb to former Yorkshire batsman Michael Lumb at slip.
Rudolph had reached 59 off watchful 124 balls. By then Gale had also passed fifty, the third of his nascent career which began in 2004. This is his 16th of his first class career.
The start had been delayed by an hour and a quarter, although, because the extra half hour was available, only 12 overs were lost.
Earlier in the morning an historic ceremony took place in the Yorkshire executive suite during which a portrait of Sir Len Hutton was unveiled by his son Richard.
The portrait had been hanging in the bar at Lord’s but Yorkshire had persuaded MCC to release it for the season and let it be displayed at Headingley as part of the County’s celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Sir Len’s then world record innings of 364 against Australia at The Oval in 1938.
Richard Hutton hinted that the portrait, which was painted on Sir Len’s return from the 1950-51 Ashes series, might even be given a permanent home at Headingley.
“At the moment it is here just for the season,” said the former England and Yorkshire cricketer. “But it could possibly remain here, although I think MCC are rather hoping it will be returned to them.”
It is understood that Richard was none too happy about the portrait being hung in the bar at Lord’s, a point reinforced when he said: “I am not sure my father would like the fact that it has been hanging in the bar. While he liked a drink, he was not a drinker.”
Yorkshire, for whom Sir Len played 341 matches, scoring almost 25,000 runs at an average of more than 53, have found a far more dignified setting for the painting, which was commissioned by the Yorkshire Evening News, pained by Henry Carr and paid for by subscriptions from readers.