‘Anything can happen now’: Yorkshire CCC thrash Somerset at Scarborough to jump back into title hunt

GAME on. Title race back on. Yorkshire back in the hunt again.

Yorkshire's Matt Fisher celebrates the wicket of Somerset's Azhar Ali with teammates George Hill and Dom Bess. Pictures: Will Palmer/SWpix.com
Yorkshire's Matt Fisher celebrates the wicket of Somerset's Azhar Ali with teammates George Hill and Dom Bess. Pictures: Will Palmer/SWpix.com

That is what victory in Scarborough has done for their chances, that is how vital this innings win was.

Make no mistake, had Yorkshire not got over the line at North Marine Road, where they won in a hurry inside two days, their chances now would be next to negligible.

But a thumping triumph by an innings and 33 runs – a result rendered all the more impressive by the disappointment of having been held to a draw by Hampshire last week, when the hosts escaped with nine wickets down – has reinvigorated Yorkshire’s chances as surely as a bracing walk along Scarborough seafront, to where many of their supporters may head today deprived, as they have been, of anticipated cricket.

Yorkshire's Jordan Thompson celebrates the wicket of Somerset's Tom Banton after he was caught behind by teammate Harry Duke

Victory lifted Yorkshire off the foot of Division One, with Steve Patterson’s men having carried forward the fewest number of points from the group stage, and temporarily up to first position with other games in progress.

Yorkshire have two matches left, against Warwickshire at Emerald Headingley, starting on Sunday, and Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, beginning on Tuesday week, and they may need to win both to take the title.

“Anything can happen now,” said Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire first team coach, whose side have won six of their 12 Championship fixtures this season, drawing five and losing one. “We’ve probably got to win two out of two, and we’re perfectly capable of doing that.

“We were bitterly disappointed not to get the victory at Hampshire last week, and to back it up by beating a strong Somerset side inside two days was a fantastic effort. From start to finish, the lads dominated the game.

Yorkshire's Harry Brook celebrates his century against Somerset

“I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a two-day win before. I’ve been involved in a two-day loss as a coach, but a two-day win against a really good team is unbelievable really.

“When you come off the back of a T20 quarter-final loss, as we did against Sussex, you worry how that may affect confidence, but the lads have really hit the ground running in this last part of the Championship season and are playing some great cricket.

“Confidence is high, everyone’s contributing, the signs are good and team spirit is great. Long may it continue.”

On an overcast morning on the North Yorkshire coast, where a short, sharp shower caused a 20-minute delay after just two overs, Harry Brook resumed on 79 with Yorkshire 159-5 in reply to Somerset’s first innings 134.

There was some indifferent bowling from the visitors first-up, with Brook and Harry Duke picking up comfortable boundaries through the leg-side, and it required a fine delivery from Josh Davey to break the stand, Duke bowled by a beauty that squared him up.

To rich applause from the 2,554 crowd, a slight improvement on the first day attendance, Brook reached his century with successive offside boundaries off Tom Abell, the Somerset captain.

It was his second century of the season and the fourth of his career, coming from 122 balls with 16 fours and a six, and it was a superlative display by one of the country’s best young players.

Brook finally fell in the fourth over after lunch, flashing a cut to second slip, one delivery before the second new ball with 118 runs to his name.

Jordan Thompson, another burgeoning talent, then assumed centre stage, lofting Tom Lammonby for a brace of leg-side sixes en route to his first Championship fifty of the season, reached from 94 balls.

Thompson accelerated impressively through the gears, showing commendable maturity and match awareness, and he received a warm ovation when he walked off after cutting to backward point to end a fine innings of 57 from 118 deliveries.

Yorkshire slipped to 296-9 when David Willey miscued an attempted pull back to de Lange, the bowler, and they were all out for 308 – a third batting point safely pocketed – when Patterson picked out mid-on, de Lange 
finishing with 4-55 and Davey 4-72.

Trailing by 174, with 44 overs left in the day, Somerset were soon in disarray at 18-5 in the 11th over.

After Willey had Lammonby caught at third slip, Fisher nipped in with four wickets in a magnificent burst from the Peasholm Park end.

Azhar Ali edged to second slip; James Hildreth was trapped leg-before, stuck on the crease; George Bartlett was leg-before to one that speared back in, and Abell left a delivery that came back in to strike the stumps, Fisher finishing with career-best match figures of 9-64.

It would have been 30-6, but Willey dropped Tom Banton at mid-off before he had scored off Patterson.

However, the reprieve was short-lived as Banton inside-edged behind off Thompson, and Somerset slid to 69-7 when Steven Davies, in attempting to work George Hill to leg, edged to Tom Kohler-Cadmore at first slip; Yorkshire’s slip catching throughout was of the highest class.

Yorkshire turned to Dom Bess for the first time in the game after 78 overs of pace across the two innings, the off-spinner going on to have his former team-mate Jack Leach caught at slip by Lyth to end a fighting stand of 42 with Ben Green.

Yorkshire claimed the extra half-hour with the visitors 112-8, and Thompson produced a magnificent away-swinging yorker to leave them nine-down when Green was bowled for the top score of 32.

There were 26 balls left in the day at that stage, and only one remained when Thompson yorked de Lange to claim an outstanding win shortly before 7pm, the players celebrating with pizzas in front of the pavilion.