McGrath makes timely return to form

Yorkshire 369-5 v Worcestershire
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The Independent Online
This was a profitable day for Yorkshire, who began the match lying fourth in the Britannic Assurance table with a 17-point deficit that is by no means beyond their compass. Should they win this contest, next week's meeting with the current leaders, Kent, here could be the defining moment of the Championship.

It was a particularly good day for Anthony McGrath, the 21-year-old batsman who toured with England A last winter but for whom the season has, until the last couple of weeks, been an anti-climax. Dropped by Yorkshire after a lean start, the tall right-hander's return to form is timely. Having made only his second half-century of the summer in the washed-out Roses match last week, McGrath demonstrated his renewed well-being with an innings of considerable quality in conditions that were never entirely straightforward.

Although David Byas, the Yorkshire captain, felt it reasonable to bat first, the pitch had no great pace and was green enough to give the seamers some help. Indeed, had Worcestershire bowled with more consistency and fielded more efficiently - four dropped catches, three others missed and many runs carelessly conceded - the story could have been different.

McGrath was among the beneficiaries, surviving on 94 when Gavin Haynes put down a sharp, low caught-and-bowled and more unexpectedly on 109, when Reuben Spiring frustrated Stuart Lampitt by spilling a simple chance at first slip. There were "lives" also for Michael Vaughan and David Byas.

Otherwise, from McGrath there was much to admire. Opening in the absence of the injured Martyn Moxon, he dispatched firm drives with a pleasant timing on both sides of the wicket in an innings spanning almost five hours.

His century - a first for more than a year in the Championship - came off 211 balls with 16 fours and, although he was fortunate twice in the 90s, dragging an inside edge perilously close to his leg stump the ball after Haynes's drop, he had the confidence to keep attacking and gathered another five boundaries before a ball from the left-arm spinner, Richard Illingworth, squeezed beneath his bat and rolled on to the stumps.

Byas and Darren Lehmann supported McGrath with brisk half-centuries before Craig White emulated some of McGrath's fluency with an unbeaten 74 as Yorkshire collected maximum batting points.