Depleted Yorkshire CCC frustrated on green day at Trent Bridge

THE pitch was so green that it looked like The Incredible Hulk.

Yorkshire's Ben Coad. Picture: PA

Had it been any greener, it would have been impossible to distinguish it from the rest of the square.

Practically the only clue as to its location was two sets of blue stumps separated by a distance of 22 yards. The viridescent surface put one in mind of those famously prepared by Ron Allsop, the Nottinghamshire groundsman of the 1980s, for Clive Rice and Richard Hadlee to exploit.

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Given that it looked such a good pitch for bowling, the sort that leaves a seamer salivating when he turns up at the ground and a batsman with a sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach, it was no surprise when Yorkshire’s stand-in captain Ben Coad chose to field after winning the toss.

Yorkshire wicketkeeper Harry Duke. (Photo by Andy Kearns/Getty Images)

Leading Yorkshire for the first time in the absence of club captain Steve Patterson, who has a hamstring injury, Coad did what any seasoned skipper would have done, let alone one whose captaincy experience amounted to 10 second-team fixtures, including four this season.

Appearances, however, can sometimes be deceptive and although there was help for bowlers throughout on a pleasant day graced with watery sunshine, the pitch did not misbehave as might have been expected.

Nine wickets fell in the 96 overs bowled as Nottinghamshire reached 292, Joe Clarke leading the way with a magnificent 109 and Joey Evison, a 19-year-old playing only his sixth first-class match, striking 58, his maiden half-century.

With Patterson indisposed although present at the ground, and with Gary Ballance unavailable due to illness, thus depriving Yorkshire of another leadership option, Coad became the seventh captain utilised by the club this season in competitive cricket. The others, in addition to that trio, were Joe Root, David Willey, Dom Bess and Adam Lyth.

With Root and Willey rested by England, along with Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow, Coad is far from leading a full-strength team. Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Will Fraine returned following second-team centuries along with Matthew Revis, the promising all-rounder.

It is a team, perhaps, with as much an eye on the future as the prospect – albeit only an outside one – of reaching next week’s Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s, which will be contested by the Division One winners and runners-up.

Although Yorkshire’s hopes of finishing first have gone, following defeat to Warwickshire at Headingley last week, fourth-placed Nottinghamshire could still do so should they win here and if other results go their way.

Again, it is perhaps only an outside prospect, but the old adage that you can only take care of your own result and then hope for the best is enshrined in sporting cliche, and the hosts have got useful runs on the board.

They certainly began the game in a way that belied the appearance of the surface and which would have delighted Peter Moores, their head coach, who it was announced before play had agreed a new three-year contract.

Haseeb Hameed and Ben Slater added 45 for the first wicket in impressive style before both fell to catches by wicketkeeper Harry Duke in the space of six balls, Hameed aiming a loose cut at Matthew Fisher and Slater feathering an edge off George Hill, who claimed a second victim just before lunch when Ben Duckett drove to Bess at backward-point.

Yorkshire followed three wickets in the morning with three in the afternoon, Coad removing Steven Mullaney and Liam Patterson-White, and Jordan Thompson accounting for Tom Moores, all caught by the outstanding Duke.

It would have been better for the visitors but Clarke was dropped on 59 and 88 either side of tea, Lyth the culprit on both occasions before he finally held Clarke at second slip off Coad late in the piece.

The first drop, off Coad, was a straightforward chance to the fielder’s left at around chest height; the second an even easier opportunity at a solitary slip off Bess.

If the ground could have opened up and swallowed Lyth at that point, he would doubtless have gone gladly with the words “sorry, lads” followed by “bye, lads” as he disappeared from view; even the best catchers in the business – and Lyth is one of the very best – have their off-days.

Clarke, whose fluency was eye-catching, his timing exquisite, seems to enjoy batting against Yorkshire. The 25-year-old struck 112 and 97 not out in the corresponding Championship game here two years ago, and he reached his 18th first-class hundred from 194 balls with a pulled six off Coad with the second new ball.

After Evison went to his half-century from 97 balls, having added as many runs with Clarke for the seventh wicket, Duke claimed his sixth catch – and Revis his maiden first-class wicket – when Brett Hutton edged a cut. Revis added another when Luke Fletcher lofted to Jordan Thompson at cover with Notts still eight away from a third batting point.