Geoffrey Boycott could have done a job against Hampshire as Yorkshire CCC are given ray of hope
WATCHING from side-on in front of the Festival marquee, immaculately dressed in suit and panama, Geoffrey Boycott looked like he was itching to get out there and have a bat.
Even at 81 he could probably still do a job at the top of the order; the ‘Greatest Living Yorkshireman’ still looks as fit as a butcher’s dog.
Granted, the eyesight might not be what it was or the feet quite as nimble, but as Don Bradman put it when asked how he might have fared against the fearsome West Indies pace attack of the 1970s, “Oh, I don’t know, I’d have probably averaged about 70-odd or something.”
“Only 70-odd?” ‘The Don’ was asked to clarify.
“Well, yes, but I am in my 80s now,” quipped a man who famously averaged 99.94 at Test level.
Boycott, now the second-most controversial figure in Yorkshire’s cricketing history, the baton having recently passed elsewhere, has been at North Marine Road this week signing copies of his latest book: Being Geoffrey Boycott, an account of his own storied Test career.
On yesterday’s evidence, his eyesight is still probably a darn sight better than that of the Hampshire fielders, who put down six chances of varying difficulty ranging from the reasonably challenging to the downright straightforward, much to the delight of most in a crowd of 2,131.
But for the butterfingers of the visiting side, who caught as if they had been partaking at Chippy’s fish and chip van between the pavilion and main entrance and not washed their greasy hands afterwards, this match would surely have been done and dusted in three days and ended in a Yorkshire defeat.
As it was, and although it may still end in a third defeat in four for the hosts, either team could win going into day four, which perhaps explained why large numbers of seagulls could be seen on chimney pots overlooking the ground throughout yesterday’s action, seemingly as glued to the entertainment as those who had paid for the privilege.
In the best batting conditions of the match, with the sun glinting off the pin-striped deckchairs on which one Dickie Bird could be seen reclining in the breezy afternoon, his dark shades giving him the air of a benevolent godfather, Yorkshire battled hard at the finest outground that ever drew breath, as Fred might have put it.
Having started the day on 23-1 in their second innings, 36 behind, they fought hard against a quality attack led by Kyle Abbott, whose 4-77, as Yorkshire were bowled out for 272 before Hampshire closed on 9-0 in pursuit of 214, gave him 10 in the match.
Both played stylishly, for both are stylish players, with Lyth defending stoically and always well forward, and Tattersall clearly buoyed by what has been a highly successful return to the Championship team for him in recent weeks, the wicketkeeper adding to his own defensive output some deft punches through the offside and whips through mid-wicket.
Still Lyth should have fallen in the day’s second over, but Joe Weatherley spilled him at third slip off Abbott, moving to his left, a bad miss that rather set the tone. Abbott hit back a couple of overs later when Tom Kohler-Cadmore, in trying to drive back down the ground, was caught behind, and Will Fraine was the other man to fall in the morning session, bowled by one from Ian Holland that perhaps straightened a touch.
Tattersall and Lyth were both dropped in successive overs shortly after lunch: Tattersall, on 24, grassed by keeper Ben Brown diving to his right off James Fuller, then Lyth, on 56, badly missed by James Vince at first slip off Abbott, the proverbial dolly. When Brown dropped his second catch behind the stumps when Matthew Waite, on 11, edged Fuller to his right, one wondered whether Hampshire should have selected Geoffrey Boycott’s grandmother in their team, a lady who could apparently take such offerings in her pinny.
She could hardly have done much worse and heads visibly sagged when the fifth and sixth catches went down in the golden evening: Matty Revis, on five, spilled at point by Weatherley off Keith Barker before poor old Weatherly dropped his third catch when Jordan Thompson, on six, edged Abbott high to third slip.
Lyth did not last long after his second reprieve, caught down the leg-side off Fuller, Abbas then bowling Waite for 47 with the second new ball before having Tattersall edging to a wide-ish third slip.
Abbott trapped Dom Bess leg-before and then had Thompson and Revis caught behind, Fuller finishing things off when Weatherley this time held on when Steve Patterson fended Fuller out to gully.