The plan was simple. Keep Lancashire in the field as long as possible, leaving them little time to accrue batting points while Yorkshire would have sufficient overs left to bowl them out.
With 12 points separating the old rivals in the First Division, and two days lost to rain, the issue was always about Championship bonus points. On a pudding pitch, under grey skies, odd showers and a cold wind, we were almost back to the "give 'em nowt" philosophy and ambience of 1920s matches. All that was missing was the big crowds: television has consigned them to history.
The plan went awry first because Lancashire polished off the innings, Jimmy Anderson taking 5 for 98, the reward for 33.3 overs of aggressive fast bowling which included some nasty lifters and seam. He also had Jason Gillespie missed at slip, first ball.
Then, when Lancashire batted, with 67 overs remaining, first Sanath Jayasuriya, with his footwork, and Mal Loye, with some mighty blows, countered the threat of Yorkshire's 19-year-old leg-spinner Adil Rashid. Rashid gained more turn and lift than Gary Keedy but is still lacking control and seems to have lost his googly. Yet he should have had Stuart Law caught first ball. It would have been his first wicket since 12 May.
Michael Vaughan, the England captain, did not field in the latter part of the day because of a stiff back. "Nothing to worry about," said coach Martyn Moxon.
Lancashire then needed 10 runs off the last over to take a second batting point, Yorkshire needed one wicket for another bowling. Captain Darren Gough audaciously stuck by Rashid. Three leg byes got them on their way but Law was stumped off the last ball with three runs needed.
Both clubs reached halfway in the Championship hoping that the sunshine that greeted the end of the match hinted at drier weather to come. Yorkshire, with 108 points, look good for their first title since 2001. Of their remaining eight games five are at Leeds or Scarborough and four are against bottom-half teams. The key fixtures may be their home and away games with Warwickshire. Injuries will also be key with Jacques Rudolph and Gerard Brophy nursing bruised hands.
Lancashire's cricketers are still coming up short despite their colourful array of overseas players and they may have to settle for Twenty20 success: lashings of cream cake when the members crave Championship hot pot.Reuse content