WEDNESDAY POLL: Yorkshire in warm reception as students fail at Headingley

A sunny day for the first day of cricket season Gary Ballance, captain for the day, leads the team out.
A sunny day for the first day of cricket season Gary Ballance, captain for the day, leads the team out.
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LAST week Yorkshire were playing in the suffocating heat of Sri Lanka, where the temperature on their pre-season tour touched 42 degrees.

Yesterday was not quite the contrast they might have expected as they began their season against the Leeds-Bradford students.

On a remarkably warm day for April 1, when the thermometer climbed to 14 degrees, the players for the most part basked in sunshine after morning cloud cover had melted away.

If it was not quite shirt sleeve stuff, it was certainly not hulking great overcoat stuff either as a 1,000 crowd enjoyed favourable weather.

Why, spectators could have been forgiven for contemplating an ice-cream, instead of the contents of a thermos flask. As it was, plenty of them left the comfort of the Long Room to take advantage of the unseasonable conditions, stretching out on the dark blue seats in front of the East Stand as summer came early to LS6.

As radiant as the weather was Yorkshire’s performance, which followed on from their impressive work on the sub-continent.

After winning the toss, they dismissed the students for 139 – captain Will Vanderspar top-scoring with a career-best, unbeaten 60 – before closing on 94-1 to end the day in anticipated ascendancy.

For all that the weather was more evocative of August than April, with the ground looking grand after the long winter break, it did not permit a prompt 11.00am start.

Heavy rain had fallen at Headingley overnight, ensuring no rest for Andy Fogarty and his hard-working ground staff, and the first session was delayed by 75 minutes.

Yorkshire, captained by Gary Ballance in the absence of the injured Andrew Gale, were quickly into their stride, haranguing the poor old students in the manner of students haranguing a teacher.

This playground looked a far from happy one for these students in the face of a four-strong pace attack of Ryan Sidebottom, Steve Patterson, Jack Brooks and Liam Plunkett, which belied Yorkshire’s determination to treat this as a 17th County Championship match.

It took Sidebottom all of three balls to take his and Yorkshire’s first wicket of the season.

Bowling from the Rugby Stand end, he produced a delightful delivery that nipped away from Nick Gubbins and took the outside edge on its way through to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, who looked excellent throughout.

Brooks, who opened from the Kirkstall Lane end, claimed his first wicket when Christian Davis was lbw pushing half-forward.

The visitors suffered a double blow on the stroke of lunch, Dan Young edging Plunkett’s first delivery to Ballance at first slip, and Peter Ross hanging out his bat at Patterson as the students slipped to 30-4.

When Patterson had Andy Laws lbw to leave Leeds-Bradford 50-5, it seemed a three-figure total might be beyond them.

But a stand of 41 between Vanderspar and Harry Rouse was timely and tenacious, the latter withstanding for 13 overs before Brooks delivered one through his defences.

After going to his maiden first-class half-century from 78 balls, Vanderspar found another ally in Alex MacQueen, with whom he added 31 for the seventh wicket before his partner was smartly caught by a tumbling Lyth at second slip off Plunkett.

However, Vanderspar’s hopes of advancing to a century were rapidly extinguished by Adil Rashid, who cleaned up the innings with meticulous efficiency.

The leg-spinner had been introduced in the 41st over with the total 116-6. He ended with his side’s best figures of 3-8.

Operating from the Rugby Stand end, on a pitch that could in no way be described as conducive to his craft, Rashid still asked questions and encountered few answers. Vanderspar could do nothing but watch from the non-striker’s end as the innings ended in double-quick fashion.

Rashid took his first wicket in the final over before tea when he bowled Charlie Macleod, his second one coming in the second over after the break when Zafir Patel was held at short-leg. In his next over, Rashid had Ivan Thomas lbw.

Vanderspar, who faced 118 balls and struck 11 fours, was one of only four players to reach double figures against an attack that would be difficult for any county XI – let alone a university one.

Otherwise, the innings was a tale of regular wickets, each of them applauded in the afternoon sunshine.

As evening loomed and the shadows lengthened, the Yorkshire openers Lyth and Alex Lees looked in good touch, striking the ball with style and precision and ever-alert to the speedy single.

Lees had a life on 22 when he was dropped at square-leg off Vanderspar and he fell to the final ball of the day when the tireless Thomas shattered his stumps.

Scorecard: Page 24.