Yorkshire pose Andrew Gale a selection dilemma with best yet to come
Yorkshire 459-9 Northamptonshire 94 & 245 (Yorks win by an innings and 120 runs)
Wednesday 23 April 2014
Against an injury-hit Northamptonshire side short in particular of the weaponry to bowl good opponents out, it might be overegging the pudding to suggest that Yorkshire's win sets down a marker in the County Championship, ruthless though it was.
The promoted side were outplayed in all areas but, with scarcely a full 11 of fit players to choose from, no overseas player and their joint-best bowler from 2013 able only to bat, the cards in their hand looked modest from the outset.
Once Gary Ballance had taken a win out of their range in Yorkshire's first innings, and they had folded so miserably in reply, damage limitation was the best Northamptonshire could hope for. They made a respectable fist of following on but, even with the best part of a full day, one way or another, lost to the weather, they were still beaten before lunch on the final day.
Yorkshire, at the other end of the scale, have so many fit or nearing fitness that they face leaving out players in form.
Joe Root should be back in action against Middlesex on Sunday, with Tim Bresnan and perhaps Jonny Bairstow on course to be considered at Chester-le-Street the following week.
Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire captain, admitted that the player most at risk, on the basis of 48 runs in three innings, was probably himself.
"I haven't thought too much about it, but I'm obviously the one who hasn't got runs so far," he said. "But I said last year I was not frightened about leaving myself out for the sake of the team. Otherwise someone could be left out who doesn't deserve to be."
Ballance will not lose his place, certainly, despite the scare that followed his 174. The finger injury he suffered in the field on Tuesday has been confirmed as superficial, his absence today merely to help a nasty cut heal. Gale's view, on the basis of how he played the short ball here, was that the Zimbabwe-born left-hander has returned from his Ashes experience an even better player than the one selected last autumn.
It took Yorkshire's pace bowlers 66 minutes to claim the first five of the six wickets they needed to complete victory, before a 50-run stand between David Murphy and Mohammad Azharullah delayed the inevitable until just before 1pm, when Adil Rashid claimed the only Northamptonshire wicket to fall to spin. Jack Brooks finished with eight wickets in the match against his former county.
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