In an ideal world, Essex would have marked their ascent to the top of the Championship table yesterday with a display of the efficiency that has earned them five successive wins. But cricket does not always follow a logical course and it was Yorkshire who had the better of a thoroughly entertaining day, even though they would not have been entirely satisfied.
Craig White batted majestically for the second successive game and Martyn Moxon and Richard Blakey both made half-centuries, but the big innings that would have strengthened Yorkshire's grip on a match they must win never materialised, despite Essex's problems.
But it was always going to be a difficult day for someone. A rock-hard pitch of occasional uneven bounce with sideways movement for the new ball and shaven on a spinner's length was clearly produced with a result in mind, but a buffeting, blustery wind frustrated Essex's bowlers and length and line were often elusive.
To a certain extent, they solved the problem by using first Graham Gooch and then Peter Such for lengthy, old-fashioned spells of stock bowling into the wind and allowing their quicker bowlers to operate in relays at the other end, but only Neil Williams, off a shortened run, put the ball consistently in the right place.
In his first over he turned Michael Vaughan round to have him caught at slip. In his next, Moxon, when two, survived a similar chance and needed a fair amount of luck against Ashley Cowan, who along with Yorkshire's Chris Silverwood and Derbyshire's Andrew Harris, is regarded as one of the most promising young bowlers to have emerged recently.
But Cowans was not the first inexperienced bowler to discover that Headingley, with its sloping run-ups, is not the easiest ground on which to bowl. He found it hard to obtain any consistent rhythm and his opening spell culminated in being square-cut remarkably for six by Moxon.
Moxon got himself out, leaving White to begin more or less where he left off with his 181 against Lancashire. Essex would have been highly relieved when he and Blakey both got out soon after adding 115 at five an over. And although they bowled their overs with admirable briskness, the loss of Gooch, splendidly caught one-handed by Blakey, probably convinced them that it was not their day.Reuse content