‘CAN we play you every week?’ may be a chant more associated with the football terraces than any of England’s Test grounds.
But, after Yorkshire once again demolished Warwickshire in comprehensive fashion to claim an innings victory inside three days, it is surely a suggestion that Andrew Gale’s title-chasers would not be totally against right now.
The White Rose county were superior in every department against their hosts, who have now lost by more than an innings in three of the last four LV=County Championship meetings between the two sides.
Yesterday, that dominance saw Ryan Sidebottom and Steve Patterson claim three wickets apiece as Warwickshire were shot out just 20 or so minutes after tea.
It was enough to ensure Yorkshire will go into a run of five Twenty20 games inside eight days sitting either on top of the Division One table or joint top, Nottinghamshire the side that can draw level if, as seems likely, they complete a victory over Somerset at Trent Bridge later today.
And while it may be too early – there are, after all, six four-day games still to play – to talk about potential title triumphs, there can be little doubt that Gale and his side have this week put down an important marker in claiming a fourth Championship victory.
“I thought we were outstanding throughout the game,” said delighted captain Andrew Gale.
“The way we went about our business was really positive. With our batting, we scored at four an over and that meant the opposition were never able to settle.
“We also bowled well and our catching was good, too. Over the last month, we have sort of needed to take 15 or 16 wickets an innings so I was really pleased, as there was only one half chance that went down.”
When the Yorkshire team bus had arrived at Edgbaston a little under two hours before the scheduled start of play at 11am, the sight that met the disembarking players was of a full car park.
Any thoughts, however, that this may be due to a bumper crowd wanting to see the visitors force home the advantage they had worked so hard to create over the first two days were soon dispelled when the car park attendant revealed that Tesco was staging a conference for some of their employees in one of the ground’s executive suites.
Ten overs into the third day, ‘every little helps’, the supermarket chain’s advertising slogan of choice, was a sentiment an increasingly bedraggled looking Warwickshire side could surely empathise with after losing their first two wickets.
Varun Chopra was the first to depart, trapped in front of his stumps by a fine delivery from Sidebottom that moved late. James Troughton then followed suit when, after being hit on the helmet during Jack Brooks’s previous over, the opener fell into a carefully-set trap by hooking another short delivery from the pace bowler straight to Karl Carver at long leg.
The previous day, Will Porterfield had spilt a simple chance at slip that, had it been taken, would have left Yorkshire teetering on 151-5 with a long tail to come. Jonny Bairstow, the batsman handed the reprieve on 28, went on to hit 62 and, along with Aaron Finch and Rich Pyrah, give the visitors a 194 run first innings lead.
He tried to made amends yesterday for his costly fumble by dropping anchor at one end. Joined by Sam Hain, he did just that for well over an hour of the morning session before Patterson made the all-important breakthrough by shattering Hain’s stumps just before lunch.
Sidebottom returned to the fray in the afternoon to tempt a wild shot from Tim Ambrose that brought a thick edge and a catch by Adam Lyth at second slip.
Porterfield remained steadfast, but then the delivery of the day arrived courtesy of Sidebottom and the opening batsman played down completely the wrong line, Bairstow taking the catch and, with the Irish left-hander’s resistance broken after 43 runs from 131 deliveries, Warwickshire’s fate was sealed.
Three further wickets fell before tea, as, first, Lyth took a superb diving slip catch from the bowling of Patterson to dismiss Chris Woakes.
Rikki Clarke then tried to drive Patterson only for the tall seamer to collect a stunning one-handed return catch.
Carver capped a fine session for the White Rose by spinning his way past Jeehan Patel’s defences to claim his second first-class wicket to leave Warwickshire reeling on 158-8.
It meant a further 36 runs were needed to make Yorkshire bat again and that never seemed likely as the again impressive Brooks elicited a top edge from Keith Barker and Bairstow took a towering catch after sprinting 20 yards.
And it was all over for the hosts when Boyd Rankin was lbw to Carver to seal a fifth victory for Yorkshire against Warwickshire in their last eight Championship meetings.