Moxon lifts gloom with lively innings

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The Independent Online
reports from Headingley

Warwickshire 306 Yorkshire 293-4

Cricket does not come much more begrudging than it did at Headingley yesterday. On a slow pitch starting to show signs of wear, and with neither side wanting to concede ground to the other, this clash of the titans moved at a tectonic rate. Only a workmanlike century by Martyn Moxon enlivened an otherwise dull day.

Moxon, who before this season was the long-suffering skipper at Yorkshire, is clearly enjoying a career back in civvies. So far this season, when his eggshell digits have allowed, he has been in marvellous form, and he when he reached 33, he joined six other current players, in passing 20,000 runs for his county.

Apart from a runless half an hour after lunch, which revealed his intentions of a big score, he kept his innings ticking along at much the same pace, sweeping and driving both spinners when their line and length wavered, even striking Neil Smith for a huge six over long-on.

He needed partners and Michael Bevan proved an unflinching ally after Michael Vaughan and David Byas had both been bowled, and he shared the first of two 100 partnerships Moxon was involved in, the other coming with Tony McGrath either side of tea.

In 11 first-class innings this season, Bevan is the leading run-sorer in the country having scored 869 runs at an average of just under 80. His dismissal, edging an arm ball from Ashley Giles, came as a surprise, for although Dermot Reeve's cautious field settings made it difficult for him to score his runs, he did not look in trouble at any stage and scarcely played a false stroke.

Reeve is having something of a curious season by his upbeat standards. Billed as cricket's Mr Positive, Reeve has had a change of polarity and what with yesterday's negative field settings following his bat throwing incident of few weeks ago (over which, Lord's said yesterday, no action will be taken), he is clearly feeling the pressure of trying to top the achievements of the previous two years.

Yet in some ways Reeve's caution was understandable, and by limiting Yorkshire's lead, he is trying to give his spinners a chance of winning the match on Monday when Yorkshire bat last.

Spotting this, Yorkshire sold their wickets more dearly than a pound of truffles. When Moxon went 45 minutes before the close, to a smart running catch by Andy Moles, it was only the fourth wicket to fall.

Chances were therefore at a premium and Tony McGrath made the most of an early reprieve when he was dropped by Shaun Pollock at slip off Giles on one.

Taking an obvious liking to Pollock - who after six weeks of the county grind is not looking the same bowler who peppered England on his Test debut at Centurion Park - he clipped the South African fast bowler through the on-side for several boundaries.

It was a shot that featured heavily in his unbeaten fifty and one that Warwickshire will no doubt try and stem when play resumes today.