“WHEN was the last time a Lancashire batsman scored a fifty batting one-handed to win a Roses match?” asked one Yorkshire supporter as this correspondent made his way into the ground yesterday.
The gentleman was referring to the fact that Liam Livingstone, the Lancashire captain, had broken his thumb on the first day and would only bat if his side felt that they could reach a target of 323.
It was always a massive game for both teams with the table as it is, and I’m just delighted that we’ve come out on the right side of the result,Martyn Moxon
Although one scoured the gentleman’s face for the flicker of a smile, it soon became clear that the question was more genuine than tongue-in-cheek.
Certainly the sight of Livingstone taking throw-downs from the Lancashire coaching staff prior to play, and quite literally batting with one hand behind his back in a protective cast, would have done little to assuage the fears of the more pessimistic members of the Yorkshire travelling support.
As it turned out, the gentleman had nothing to worry about – either from an heroic Livingstone performance (he did come out to bat at No 11 but did not face a ball), or from the outside chance of a Lancashire win.
After starting day three on 194-6, needing another 129 to achieve the highest run-chase in Roses history, and the 10th-highest chase ever completed against Yorkshire, the hosts’ hopes fizzled out before they began, Yorkshire taking the last four wickets for 10 runs in 12.4 overs to claim their third victory of the season to climb out of the relegation zone.
Joe Root applied the coup de grace, the England Test captain taking three of those last four wickets to add to his key dismissal of Jos Buttler the previous night, ending with career-best figures of 4-5.
The other wicket fell to Steve Patterson, the Yorkshire captain, who claimed 3-38 as his side wrapped up victory by 118 runs after 40 minutes’ play.
It was a vital result, with Yorkshire having gone into the match in the final relegation place three points behind Lancashire with a game in hand, and Martyn Moxon, the Yorkshire director of cricket, hopes that it can serve as a springboard.
“It was always a massive game for both teams with the table as it is, and I’m just delighted that we’ve come out on the right side of the result,” he said.
“It was a really tough, hard, competitive game, and the pleasing thing was the way that we scrapped and fought really hard.
“We’re doing okay (in the Championship) without being at our very best, and the challenge is trying to put a really complete performance together.
“But we can’t be complacent because the league is so competitive; we’ve got six games to go and if we have six good games we could yet finish second, but if we have six bad games we could end up getting relegated, so it’s that close and we have to keep performing.”
Moxon’s sentiments were echoed by first-team coach Andrew Gale, whose side had the better of a topsy-turvy contest.
Yorkshire scored a below-par 192 in their first innings only to fight back strongly to dismiss Lancashire for 109, the visitors following up with 239 before the Red Rose were dismissed for 204.
“It was a very up-and-down game that kept you on the edge of your seat, and a great advert for county cricket,” said Gale.
“We were 100 short of where we wanted to be on that pitch in the first innings, but we bowled well to get back into the game and then had a great partnership between Harry Brook and Jonny Bairstow in our second innings before the tail wagged.
“Then Joe Root came in and cleaned up the tail in the Lancashire second innings – he’s a golden arm really – and this result should give us a lot of confidence.
“Four of our last six games are at home as well, so we’re quite positive with where we’re at.”
Root opened the bowling from the James Anderson end when play started yesterday in watery sunshine.
Ben Coad was unable to bowl owing to a side injury, with Root preferred to leg-spinner Josh Poysden, whose loan period Yorkshire are hoping to extend after talking to Warwickshire.
It took Root, bowling around the wicket, one ball to make the breakthrough, slanting a delivery across Graham Onions that took the edge through to wicketkeeper Bairstow.
Root struck again with the third delivery of his third over of the morning, Matt Parkinson pushing forward and edging to Adam Lyth at the first of two slips.
When Patterson trapped Tom Bailey lbw to leave Lancashire 204-9, one assumed that Livingstone would not come out with 119 still needed.
But appear he did but could only look-on helplessly from the non-striker’s end as Root rounded things off by bowling James Anderson as he tried to sweep.