Yorkshire set out to defy the Red Rose

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP: Lancashire made to toil n Middlesex pile up the runs n Warwickshire in command
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The Independent Online
MARTIN JOHNSON

reports from Old Trafford

Yorkshire 393-6 v Lancashire

Artificial motivational devices are rarely required for matches between these two teams, but if Yorkshire are in the market for a mischievous response to the fact that Lancashire occasionally play old Winston Churchill speeches to themselves, they could do worse than offer their oldest rivals a few crackly recordings of Ramsay MacDonald.

It would be one way of reminding Lancashire of the incumbent Prime Minister the last time they won the Championship outright, in 1934, although Lancashire's prospects of ending that 61-year odyssey were not hugely enhanced by yesterday's events.

For most of the day, Lancashire played as though Winston's 1940 guide to what to do on beaches did not so much involve fighting, as lowering the deckchair a couple of notches and hailing a passing ice cream vendor. In fairness, though, this was a blinding toss for Yorkshire to have won, and their first-day total of 393 for 6 was not quite as imposing as it threatened to be at 303 for 3.

This is the 239th Roses match and, with one side batting all day, it did little to erase the impression that the previous 238 have all ended (on the "give the buggers nowt" principle) in a draw. The pitch was perfect for four-day cricket - largely embracing the batsmen, but with something in it for bowlers with a bit of skill and sweat.

Yorkshire arrived here on the back of two consecutive defeats which have more or less ended their season, but there is no consolation prize they would like better than having a hand in the Red Rose suffering an attack of greenfly.

There were also individual considerations, such as David Byas attempting to persuade the watching Raymond Illingworth (not that Illy needs much nudging when a Yorkie is involved) that he is worth a place in the final Test match next week.

Byas, the country's leading run-scorer, ostensibly made a case for himself with an innings of 76, but it was in no way fluent, and on the rare occasions Wasim Akram got it up around throat height, the left-hander was pretty unconvincing.

Ashley Metcalfe's days of being touted as an England possible (Illy's son-in-law or not) have long gone, although his unbeaten half-century restored the balance of power back to Yorkshire.

The opening wicket provided a collectors' item in that Glen Chapple's return catch off Michael Vaughan was the first instance of a Lancashire-born Yorkshireman being dismissed by a Yorkshire- born Lancastrian in a Roses match. This would be more of a freak were it not for the fact that for 124 years, interlopers such as Vaughan and Michael Bevan were not allowed to play for Yorkshire.

Bevan made 95 off 139 balls until Mike Watkinson took 3 for 17 in five overs, including Bevan's wicket with one of several balls which turned sharply. No profligate use of the hosepipe here. The pitch is as dry as a ship's biscuit, and Richard Stemp will have his chance to impress on it today.

More reports, scoreboard, page 25

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP TOP FOUR

P W L D Bt Bl Tot

Northants 13 10 2 1 33 47 240

Middlesex 12 9 2 1 32 48 224

Warwicks 12 9 2 1 31 44 219

Lancs 12 8 2 2 39 46 213

l Standings before current round of matches

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