Yorkshire are short of ideas

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The Independent Online

Should Yorkshire win here, as they must to retain a chance of securing their first County Championship since 1968, it will have been a victory earned through hard graft after Worcestershire stoutly repelled the home side's pursuit of cheap wickets yesterday.

Having reached 414 for 6 by the close of a second day severely curtailed by rain, Yorkshire batted until they had 501 on the board for the loss of one further wicket, clearly hoping for a psychological edge sufficient to induce capitulation at the double by their opponents.

However, they reckoned without a succession of batsmen with no intention of succumbing meekly to a youthful Yorkshire seam attack. Worcestershire resume today needing 38 to avoid the follow-on and force David Byas to design a new game plan.

Plan A began well enough when Paul Hutchison, the 20-year-old left-armer who has burst from second XI obscurity with a run of 19 wickets in three matches, had Tom Moody brilliantly caught behind for seven - a 500th catch in first-class cricket for Richard Blakey - but thereafter wickets fell with frustrating infrequency.

Gavin Hamilton, who has not enjoyed as good a season as was probably hoped of him, rose to the occasion to bowl as sharply as local observers could recall and accounted for Graeme Hick and Reuben Spiring in the space of seven balls. His later spell was poor by comparison and the absence of Darren Gough and Peter Hartley was noticeable. By the end, Yorkshire looked short of ideas. That Hutchison should have bowled only nine overs in the day was a mystery.

Worcestershire's interest is more than academic. They began in fifth place, just five points behind Yorkshire, and while their title prospects were probably never better than theoretical, they have place-money as an incentive. Moody and Spiring apart, all of their batsmen made a significant contribution and some might have gone further on a placid pitch.

Philip Weston was unlucky to be run out when Vaughan scored a direct hit from cover, Hick threw his wicket away with a loose chip to mid-wicket and Gavin Haynes, who had been dropped by Byas at second slip on two, was so annoyed by an apparent misjudgment of his feet placement he took out a divot of outfield turf with an angry swish of the bat.

When, in the morning, Craig White was despatching Richard Illingworth's left-arm spin to all parts - one over yielded 4, 6, 4, 6, 4, 1 - in his undefeated 172, Yorkshire might have had lofty visions. By the evening, their case was looking much less convincing.