FOR the second year running, Good Friday turned into Grim Friday for Yorkshire, who found themselves on the wrong end of a hefty lower-order batting partnership that frustrated their players and punters alike.
Last season, it was Nottinghamshire’s Chris Read and Steven Mullaney who did the damage, adding 150 runs for the seventh wicket to help pluck victory from the jaws of defeat.
Their stand helped Nottinghamshire from 167-6 in their second innings – 27 runs behind – to a final total of 337 all-out, which left Yorkshire wanting 145 for victory.
In a turnaround to rival Headingley ‘81, Yorkshire were blown away for 86, a defeat that set the tone for a wretched summer.
Yesterday it was the turn of Kent’s Matt Coles and Mark Davies to frustrate the home crowd with a ninth-wicket partnership of 153.
Although the effect was not as immediately apparent, with this match only at the halfway stage, the annoyance factor was certainly comparable as Yorkshire’s bowling and fielding floundered.
When Coles and Davies came together beneath slate-grey skies, Kent were 374-8 after Yorkshire had fought back well after the visitors ended day one on 345-5.
By the time Davies was dismissed for 58, caught at first slip by Gary Ballance off Anthony McGrath, the scoreboard showed 527-9 and Yorkshire, if they did not know it already, had received a clear indication that life in Division Two may not be a cakewalk.
After Kent declared on 537-9 as soon as Coles reached a maiden first-class century, Yorkshire replying with 32-0 before bad light and rain claimed the evening session, the home side’s misery further mushroomed.
Rich Pyrah, who had gone to hospital for an X-ray after being struck on the left hand while fielding, returned to Headingley Carnegie wearing a pot that confirmed a break and the prospect of several weeks on the sidelines.
It was wretched luck for the all-rounder, one of Yorkshire’s leading lights during last summer’s gloom.
The 29-year-old is no stranger to injuries, and his absence will be keenly felt in all competitions.
Although Pyrah’s injury presents Yorkshire with a headache in the medium term, their short-term goal is clearly to emerge unscathed from this game.
Despite trailing by 505 runs, it is something they should achieve on a surface that is largely comfortable for batting.
Indeed, the ease with which Coles and Davies advanced could not entirely be attributed to Yorkshire’s deficiencies, for this is not a pitch that would look out of place if it was suddenly transported into the middle of the M1.
On paper, Yorkshire’s batting line-up is more than good enough to respond to Kent in kind, with openers Joe Root and Joe Sayers having experienced few alarms in the nine overs they were obliged to negotiate just before tea.
Yesterday, however, was all about Coles and Davies – the former a strapping 21-year-old left-hander playing only his 27th first-class match, the latter a 31-year-old right-arm pace bowler who signed from Durham during the close season.
They came together about one hour into the day’s play after Ajmal Shahzad had Darren Stevens caught at mid-on and then uprooted Geraint Jones’s off-stump, Adil Rashid following up by bowling Adam Riley.
At that stage, it seemed that Kent – 310-3 on the opening day – might not even make it up to 400.
As it was, the ninth-wicket duo decreed otherwise as they batted with the aplomb of recognised batsmen.
Coles revealed his intentions by pulling Shahzad for six, Davies following up by taking three fours in an over off Pyrah – two steered through third man, the third stroked stylishly through cover.
The 50 stand was hoisted inside 11 overs, Coles celebrating by dancing down the track to drive Rashid like a tracer bullet through mid-off to the Rugby Stand boundary.
Coles also took a liking to the occasional off-spin of Root during a pre-lunch over that cost 13 runs.
It included one huge pull into the West Stand for six that sent the ball disappearing down a gangway, sparking a hunt by the stewards as though they were children pursuing a well-hidden Easter egg.
After lunch, Yorkshire looked increasingly flat. They were left ruing a regulation dropped catch by Ryan Sidebottom just moments after the break when Coles, on 56, pulled Rashid to deep-backward square-leg.
Sidebottom made a much better fist of trying to catch Coles over his shoulder while running backwards at mid-off after the batsman, on 69, slogged Iain Wardlaw high into the sky.
Coles was dropped again on 95 by Andrew Gale at deep cover off Rashid before reverse-sweeping the next ball for six to bring up his hundred, at which point Robert Key put Yorkshire out their misery.