But the Yorkshire fans at Old Trafford yesterday must have wondered at times if that wait had been worth it, their side bowled out for 159 before Lancashire reached 95-1 in reply.
As Robert Louis Stevenson memorably put it, “to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive”, and how similar sentiments might have been felt by those who had journeyed from across the Pennines.
There looked to be plenty of them in a crowd of around 2,000, including those who had draped their White Rose banners over the balconies of the on-site hotel, prominent among them “Jane and Mel – Wrinklies on Tour”, who must have aged even more as Yorkshire wickets tumbled.
Had it not been for Harry Duke, the 19-year-old wicketkeeper playing only his second first-class game, those age lines might have been more pronounced.
Having been dismissed first ball in his solitary innings against Glamorgan in Cardiff, in Yorkshire’s previous Championship match, Duke went from golden duck to golden boy, his second visit to the crease in first-team colours a much more productive and promising affair.
Helped by useful contributions from Ben Coad (32 not out from just 28 balls) and Steve Patterson (27 from 70), Yorkshire’s last three wickets added 119 after they had plummeted to 40-7 in the morning session.
Seventy-seven of those runs were supplied by Duke and Patterson for the eighth wicket, the pair surviving for 100 minutes after lunch as Yorkshire – eventually bowled out on the stroke of a delayed tea break – had improbably threatened to bat through the afternoon session without losing a wicket.
On a mostly glorious day on t’other side of t’hill, Patterson had opted to bat first despite a weakened and out-of-sorts batting line-up. Already missing Dawid Malan due to “personal reasons”, Yorkshire had been dealt a further blow with the news that Gary Ballance had been ruled out with a calf problem sustained during training.
The pitch was certainly good for batting, but competitive enough to reward bowlers of all types: ergo, the ideal “cricket wicket”. Thus there were mitigating factors as Yorkshire’s top-order problems continued apace – not least the excellence of Lancashire’s bowling, spearheaded by Tom Bailey and Saqib Mahmood.
Exploiting good carry and helped, at times, by an outfield slowed by recent rain, the new-ball pair both struck in their opening spells: Bailey having Adam Lyth flashing to gully and George Hill defending to second slip; Mahmood removing Will Fraine – who came in for Ballance – with a superb delivery that the batsman could do little but edge to the keeper.
Harry Brook, like Fraine, went for a duck, although it was a case of death by his own hand as he was slow to respond to a call for a quick single when Tom Kohler-Cadmore dropped a delivery from Bailey into the off-side, Alex Davies pouncing from cover.
When Danny Lamb nipped in with the wickets of Dom Bess and Kohler-Cadmore, caught in the gully and lbw respectively, Yorkshire were 21-6 and in all sorts of strife.
Kohler-Cadmore was dropped twice in the slips en route to 10, with Lancashire’s catching the only blemish on an otherwise top performance; they spilled five opportunities of varying difficulty.
At 21-6, the press box was awash with questions concerning Yorkshire’s lowest score against Lancashire in the Championship – for the record, 33 at Headingley in 1924.
That embarrassment was averted but when Jordan Thompson fended Luke Wood into the hands of short-leg, it seemed by no means certain that Yorkshire would advance from 40-7 and past their lowest Championship score at Old Trafford – 51 in 1893.
A delightful cover-driven four by Duke off Wood ensured that they did, the teenager following up by pulling the same bowler to the boundary. After lunch, which Yorkshire took on a distinctly nauseous 57-7, Duke and Patterson rallied impressively.
Patterson was given a torrid working over by Mahmood, who hit him on the helmet, but provided staunch support to Duke, who was dropped by keeper Dane Vilas down the leg side on 29 and by Keaton Jennings at leg slip with the tickle that brought up his half-century, both reprieves off the spinner Matt Parkinson.
Parkinson bowled Patterson as he attempted to sweep; Duke was strangled down the leg-side trying to pull Bailey, and the innings ended when Duanne Olivier edged to first slip.
Olivier strangled Davies when Lancashire responded, the opener striking a fluent 52, but it was the home supporters who went home happy.
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