FOR a long time at Headingley on Saturday it was a case of Kane defying Abell as Kane Williamson sought to steer Yorkshire to a draw against Tom Abell’s Somerset.
The New Zealand captain batted through the entire morning session but, after falling to the fifth delivery after lunch, the innings subsided, Yorkshire collapsing to a 224-run defeat that left them second-bottom of the First Division.
It was all going so well for the hosts when Williamson and Josh Shaw, the 23-year-old nightwatchman, were in the throes of a third-wicket partnership of 90.
They had come together just before stumps on the third evening with Yorkshire 4-2 in pursuit of a notional 419, and they were not separated until 10 minutes before lunch on day four, Shaw trapped lbw for a career-best 42 after playing around a delivery from Lewis Gregory that Yorkshire felt was missing leg stump.
For as long as Williamson remained, Yorkshire had a chance – not of hunting down what would have been the highest chase in their history, but of repelling a Somerset side who needed a win to keep the pressure on leaders Surrey, whom they now trail by 32 points and host at Taunton in their penultimate match.
But two balls after reaching his half-century with a four through mid-wicket off Craig Overton, Williamson tried to ride extra bounce off the same bowler and was caught behind down the leg-side for 51, his last innings for the county this season ending in disappointment.
There was no lack of fight from the hosts, who responded well in that respect to their innings defeat against Worcestershire at Scarborough, but there are no points awarded, sadly, for the minimum prerequisites of sweat and endeavour.Chris Waters
In Overton’s next over, Tom Kohler-Cadmore was lbw as he tried to drive down the ground and, in the next over, Gary Ballance was bowled by Overton’s twin brother, Jamie.
Ballance lost his off bail as he pushed forward defensively, his dismissal leaving Yorkshire 103-6 after they had been 94-2 prior to Shaw’s departure.
From then on, it seemed only a matter of time.
Jack Leaning was seventh out at 124 when Jamie Overton bowled him with one that kept low.
Andrew Hodd, dropped on 23 by Marcus Trescothick at second slip as he dived to his left off Josh Davey, added one more run before being cleaned up by Gregory as he tried to hit a full-length ball through mid-wicket.
When Jamie Overton had Matt Fisher and Jack Brooks caught in the slips after tea, Fisher and David Willey (34 not out) having resisted in a ninth-wicket stand of 45 inside 19 overs, all the morning optimism that a rescue act could yet take place had disappeared.
In warm conditions for the first day of September, with the scoreboard standing at 8-2, Yorkshire had always faced an uphill task.
But Williamson and Shaw played with sangfroid in the first session, Shaw leading the way with a flurry of handsome early boundaries, including a brace of leg-side shots off Davey and one through the covers of Gregory.
To Somerset, Shaw must have seemed as irritating as a fly as they struggled to finish him off, the pace bowler stubbornly resisting all efforts at capture.
Indeed, for a man with a highest first-class score of 29 going into the game, Shaw made it look as though that was some sort of misprint, as if the “2” should have been a “3” or perhaps even a “4”.
So comfortably and competently did Shaw and Williamson play, with Williamson twice lofting Jack Leach for a straight six into the sightscreen at the rugby ground end, Somerset grew visibly and increasingly exasperated.
Slowly but surely, their body language became that little bit more laboured, their cries of encouragement to one another increasingly forlorn and formulaic.
Eventually, it sounded like encouragement for the sake of it as opposed to a visceral response to a particularly good delivery or a close shave, and it was a pity for Shaw and his side that he could not quite get through to lunch and also claim the maiden half-century that he would have deserved.
Williamson, who reached 10,000 first-class runs during the course of his innings, is an ideal man for a challenging situation and he batted with what the coaches term “positive intent”.
For the most part, he defended with soft hands from a compact base but all the while he had an eye on a powerful drive or a scampered single; indeed, both Williamson and Shaw seemed to make a conscious effort to knock Leach off his stride, forcing Abell to withdraw his left-arm spinner after seven wicketless overs for 33 runs.
Ultimately, as the rest of the batting was gradually swept up, it was a game in which Somerset’s superior class told.
There was no lack of fight from the hosts, who responded well in that respect to their innings defeat against Worcestershire at Scarborough, but there are no points awarded, sadly, for the minimum prerequisites of sweat and endeavour.