“IT is never as easy second time round.”
So said Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, during a break for rain at Headingley yesterday.
Moxon was referring to the possibility of it being harder to take wickets in the Northamptonshire second innings after the visitors were dismissed for 94 in just 30 overs on the second afternoon.
It proved a prescient comment by the former opening batsman, the visitors reaching 149-4 in the 49 overs possible in grey and gloomy conditions in Leeds, 216 runs behind going into the fourth and final day.
For Northamptonshire, that represented an improvement of sorts after their wretched first innings performance.
For Yorkshire, it meant they had to work as hard as Moxon forecast for their first County Championship victory of the season.
With the prospect of more rain today, Yorkshire will be anxious to take the remaining six wickets as quickly as possible.
They have been comfortably the better side in this match – despite Northamptonshire’s second innings efforts – and deserve to make that supremacy tell.
James Middlebrook, who hit 63, his first Championship half-century against his former county, and Kyle Coetzer, who scored 39, showed what could be achieved with a little discipline, the pair adding 89 for the second wicket in 25 overs.
But Coetzer undid his hard work when he followed a wide one from Ryan Sidebottom in the final over before tea and edged behind, a shot evocative of the visitors’ first innings.
Remarkably, play had started on time at 11am despite a sky as black as the ace of spades.
After three overs, umpires Ian Gould and Mark Benson decided it was too dark for Yorkshire to use their pace men, meaning an early twirl for spinners Kane Williamson and Adil Rashid.
It was certainly too dark for Liam Plunkett, who did not see the chance that came his way at fourth slip when Stephen Peters, on two, edged Sidebottom.
Rain took the sides off after only six overs and, when they returned in early afternoon, Peters fell for 11 when Sidebottom had him caught behind off a beautiful delivery.
Further rain arrived one over after tea, keeping the players off until 6pm.
Jack Brooks trapped Matthew Spriegel lbw when the action resumed and then had Middlebrook caught behind, Gary Ballance having suffered a cut finger when trying to make a catch at first slip.