Another draw just takes the biscuit for Yorkshire CCC

PETER WILLEY might not have a sense of humour by his own admission but never let that be said of those who work for the Northamptonshire ball-by-ball commentary service for the blind.
CLOSE CALL: Jordan Thompson of Yorkshire celebrates with team mates after trapping Ben Sanderson leg before on day four at Northampton Picture: David Rogers/Getty ImagesCLOSE CALL: Jordan Thompson of Yorkshire celebrates with team mates after trapping Ben Sanderson leg before on day four at Northampton Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images
CLOSE CALL: Jordan Thompson of Yorkshire celebrates with team mates after trapping Ben Sanderson leg before on day four at Northampton Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

After Willey publicly tore a strip off this correspondent for his criticism of the Wantage Road venue earlier in the match, strolling into the press area on Sunday to air his views in front of everyone present, one wrote that a change of heart might potentially be countenanced if some biscuits were provided for the visiting press (preferably Viennese whirls).

Sure enough, one arrived at the ground yesterday to find on one’s desk - yes, you’ve guessed it - a box of six Mr Kipling Viennese whirls.

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And mighty fine they tasted too - thanks to those volunteers for the blind commentary service with their keen sense of fun and who do such a grand job for the spectators here.

Shan Masood celebrates his century at Wantage Road. Picture: John Heald.Shan Masood celebrates his century at Wantage Road. Picture: John Heald.
Shan Masood celebrates his century at Wantage Road. Picture: John Heald.

If the Mr Kipling offerings were exceedingly good, thereby living up to the marketing slogan, then the same could not quite be said of Yorkshire and Northamptonshire, neither of whom could force their first win of the season.

For Northamptonshire, their chance effectively came and went on the first day when they failed to maximise helpful bowling conditions after winning the toss - and, to a lesser extent, on day four, when, having needed to wrap up the Yorkshire second innings quickly to ensure a realistically chaseable target, they were left to make a challenging 326 from a minimum of 71 overs, of which 56.5 were bowled due to rain as they closed on 250-8.

For Yorkshire, their opportunity effectively disappeared when they were unable to press home the advantage gained when they had the hosts 181-7 on day two in reply to their own first innings 362.

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They allowed Northamptonshire to recover to 301 all-out and, despite chipping away manfully on the last day, Adam Lyth taking a career-best 4-56, they had to settle for their fifth draw in seven to go with two defeats.

George Hill searches for wickets at Wantage Road. Picture: John Heald.George Hill searches for wickets at Wantage Road. Picture: John Heald.
George Hill searches for wickets at Wantage Road. Picture: John Heald.

A draw was always the likeliest outcome heading into the day, with more showers forecast after 57.4 overs had been lost to rain on day three, which hardly helped the situation. The Yorkshire second innings total stood at 156-5 when play began in bright sunshine, a lead of 217, but with those pesky showers never too far away.

They went on to reach 264-6 before declaring 25 minutes before lunch, with captain Shan Masood unbeaten on 131, shortly after the first rain interruption had pinched three overs. To put Northamptonshire’s target into perspective, it would have been the 10th-highest that Yorkshire had conceded in their first-class history - in other words, a tall order.

Masood had 82 at the start of the day, a valiant effort considering the handicap of an injured right wrist. The Pakistani was in the wars again when Ben Sanderson got one to rise sharply from the David Capel end, striking the batsman on the upper body and causing a brief stoppage.

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Masood is a fighter and he responded by cutting Sanderson for a crisp boundary towards the larger of the two electronic scoreboards. Will Luxton, his sixth-wicket partner, showed his skill with a lovely off-driven four off Siddarth Kaul towards the Lynn Wilson Centre end as Yorkshire advanced with purpose.

A delightful dab to the third-man boundary off Justin Broad brought Masood his second hundred of the campaign, reached from 126 balls with 10 fours and three sixes, a milestone that drew loud applause from the visiting balcony and the smattering of Yorkshire supporters present.

Luxton fell moments later, caught at first slip by Karun Nair off Broad for 27, before Masood and Jonny Tattersall combined in a run-a-ball stand of 66 that ushered the declaration, which felt just about right.

Northants had reached 13-0 at lunch and they lost a wicket to the first ball of the afternoon, Emilio Gay defending to first slip off Vishwa Fernando. A 50-minute rain delay followed, forcing the loss of 14 overs, before Ricardo Vasconcelos and Luke Procter frustrated Yorkshire in a positive stand. It had realised 89 in 19 overs when Procter slapped Lyth to cover, seeking to get on with things as Northamptonshire retained their interest in the target.

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They were more interested still when Vasconcelos and Nair added 63 for the third wicket, but the departure of the latter, caught in the short third-man region off Matty Revis, triggered a wobble from 165-2 in the 33rd over to 178-5 in the 36th, which sucked the wind from the home side’s sails.

George Bartlett skied Revis to cover, and Rob Keogh provided Lyth with a tame caught-and-bowled. When Lewis McManus swept Lyth to square-leg before Broad shouldered arms, Northamptonshire were seven-down with 11.5 overs left. Jordan Thompson pinned Sanderson six overs out, but Vasconceloes (129 from 183 balls) stood firm.

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