The news was confirmed on a grey and overcast day at the appropriately named CloudFM County Ground. By collecting at least two bowling points, allied to Somerset managing only one of five batting points against Middlesex at Taunton, Yorkshire’s top-flight status was secured.
As ever, the mathematics are complex, but the only statistic that counts is that Yorkshire can no longer finish in the bottom two.
For Andrew Gale, the first-team coach, it represented a sigh-of-relief start to the last match of the season, one from which Yorkshire – although pretty much safe already – needed a maximum of six points to guarantee survival, a total that they knew would come down with every point that Somerset failed to take.
“I’m pleased, but I’m also frustrated,” said Gale, whose side dismissed Essex for 227 before bad light prevented the visitors from starting their reply on a day when 22 overs were lost to the weather.
“I’m pleased because of the situation that we’ve been in, but I’m also frustrated that we’ve found ourselves in that position.
“This has been an example, against the champions, of how well we can perform. If you put a team in and bowl them out for less than 250 it’s a job well done, and the key now is to bat for a long period of time and for guys to put their hands up.”
After rain delayed the start by half-an-hour, it was no surprise that Yorkshire exercised their right to bowl first.
The visitors showed one change to the side that gained a crucial win over Warwickshire last week, spinner Karl Carver replacing vice-captain Tim Bresnan, while Ryan Sidebottom, who missed the Warwickshire match with a thigh injury, had not recovered to make what would have been his last appearance in first-class cricket.
Sidebottom had only been rated 50-50 in any case, and to judge by the farewell/thank-you messages that the former England man posted on social media last week, that figure was optimistic. Yesterday, Bresnan posted on Twitter a picture of himself and Sidebottom in the Yorkshire dressing room wearing bright yellow bibs along with the caption “Some wickets on the bench this week at Chelmsford”, adding that “@RyanSidebottom has most of them tbf (to be fair)”.
Sidebottom would have enjoyed bowling beneath the floodlights yesterday on a pitch that offered some movement and bounce.
Ben Coad certainly enjoyed himself, Yorkshire’s leading wicket-taker landing the first blow with the score on 39 in the 11th over when he had Varun Chopra well caught low down at first slip by Alex Lees, moving to his right.
Chopra struck a flurry of boundaries in an expensive opening spell from Jack Brooks, and he also stepped down the pitch to hit Steve Patterson for a remarkable six over mid-on.
Coad bowled well during an opening spell of 1-13 from seven overs on a day when Yorkshire, collectively, were very good in patches.
On his 30th birthday, Adam Lyth had a hand in the second wicket – that of Tom Westley, whom he caught at second slip after the England man gloved a ball from Patterson.
It reared up at him on a day when the occasional delivery seemed to spit, and Westley hurried off not to the dressing room but straight to the physio’s room as he nursed a damaged right thumb that X-rays later revealed is bruised.
From 63-1 before Westley was dismissed, Essex crashed to 80-5 shortly before lunch as Brooks came back well.
The pace bowler trapped Dan Lawrence lbw with the sixth ball of his second spell and, after Coad bowled Nick Browne, Brooks grabbed his second when Ravi Bopara played around a straight one and was lbw.
At that point, Yorkshire were in command, but Ryan ten Doeschate, the Essex captain, and wicketkeeper James Foster frustrated them with a sixth-wicket stand of 55 in 17 overs.
Both were positive, although Foster was a little too positive when, one ball after launching Patterson for four over mid-on, he lofted the same bowler straight out to Kraigg Brathwaite at deep mid-wicket.
Essex slipped to 142-7 when ten Doeschate pushed forward at Patterson and was caught behind, and to 183-8 when Brooks ended a jaunty innings by Neil Wagner.
When the sides then left the field due to rain, the news came through that Somerset had been bowled out for 236 and that Yorkshire were mathematically safe.
Carver, back in the first XI for the first time since Worcestershire’s Ross Whiteley struck him for six sixes in an over in a T20 match at Headingley in July, took the last two wickets.
The left-armer trapped a sweeping Simon Harmer for the top score of 64 and then had Jamie Porter caught at long-off by Patterson.