YORKSHIRE went top of County Championship Group Three but not quite in the fashion they desired.
A 12-point draw against Glamorgan was enough for Steve Patterson and his men to leapfrog Lancashire ahead of their meeting at Old Trafford later this month, although Lancashire would regain first place with six points from their match at Northants next week when Yorkshire miss a round after six back-to-back games.
Alas, the only winner in Cardiff was the weather, where just 13 overs were bowled on day four after the first day was washed out to go with various delays on days two and three.
It meant that Yorkshire were forced to settle for a third draw to go with three wins in what remains an unbeaten start to the season; Lancashire are also unbeaten (three wins and two draws) while Glamorgan, in third, have won one, lost two and drawn three and are now 29 points behind Yorkshire.
Already, with the top-two sides from each of the three groups progressing into Division One later in the season, thereby giving them a crack at the Championship title and the Bob Willis Trophy, which is not available to teams in Divisions Two and Three, Yorkshire and Lancashire look well-placed to progress from Group Three.
In Group Two, Gloucestershire and Somerset look good bets also, with only Group One (shall we call it the Group of Death, perhaps?) providing much interest for the neutral, with just nine points separating the top-five sides.
Had Yorkshire won here, where Glamorgan advanced from 108-3 to 164-4 in their second innings yesterday, a lead of 83, before hands were shaken after play finally got under way at 4.15pm, Patterson and his team would pretty much be home and hosed.
As it is, there is still work to do with Lancashire to play at home and away, plus a home fixture with Sussex and a trip to Northants before the group stage finishes.
“We’re nicely placed in the group but now’s the time to really push on,” said Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire first-team coach, whose side had been keen to stick around yesterday on another day of sunshine, showers and several inspections to see if there was an outside chance of forcing a result.
“I think we’ve played some decent cricket so far without being very good, and although you only rarely play the perfect game, you can strive to do that and we’re some way off that at the minute.
“Overall I’m pleased, but it’s my job to want more, and I want more from the players because I know they can perform better than they have done so far.”
He added: “What I am happy about, though, is the attitude, resilience and character that they’ve shown, which has been magnificent.”
And so Yorkshire’s first Championship match at Cardiff since 1998 slipped into the obscurity that such a timespan did not deserve.
It might have been a compelling contest, with Yorkshire clearly in charge after dismissing Glamorgan for 149 in challenging conditions after winning the toss only to slip to 111-8 in reply.
Joe Root, who played one of his best innings for Yorkshire given the difficulties of a two-paced surface with variable bounce, and Patterson rescued the visitors in a ninth-wicket stand of 118, Yorkshire’s highest for that wicket against Glamorgan, eclipsing the 70 unbroken between Dickie Bird and Don Wilson at Bradford in 1959.
Such was Yorkshire’s strength in those days that Bird, whose unbeaten 181 was the highest of his two first-class hundreds, was dropped for the next game; there has ever been much sentiment in Yorkshire cricket.
Given a first-innings lead of 81 thanks to Root’s 99 and Patterson’s unbeaten 47, Yorkshire did not make the most of it after reducing the hosts to 47-3 in their second innings.
They bowled inconsistently with Kiran Carlson (44) and David Lloyd (40) steering Glamorgan into the much safer territory of 108-3 in the final action on day three.
Yesterday, after heavy rain eventually gave way to bright sunshine, Carlson quickly raised his half-century, reached from 46 deliveries with eight fours.
Lloyd had not added to his overnight total when he was lbw to the 19th ball of proceedings, beaten by a full and straight one from Ben Coad.
Carlson, on his 23rd birthday, played a number of handsome offside drives, confirming his status as a batsman of some potential.
He had reached 88 from 84 deliveries, and the clock had not long ticked past 5pm, when the draw was officially confirmed, with Yorkshire now having a welcome break before that Roses contest at Old Trafford which begins on May 27.
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