Key bowler back as Yorkshire CCC look to get back on the horse at Gloucestershire
Rishi Patel’s match-winning hundred for Leicestershire - allied to key contributions from Colin Ackermann, Peter Handscomb (once of Yorkshire) and Chris Wright - saw the visitors chase down 389 inside 87 overs to win with seven balls remaining.
Whether Lord Kamlesh Patel, the now departed chairman, was watching on the live stream is not known to this scribe.
The stream actually went haywire at one stage due to technical problems which, as someone called “Scaramouche” pointed out on the club’s Twitter page, was “probably a good thing”.
Equally haywire, or at least not at its best, was Yorkshire’s bowling department, which, notwithstanding a flat pitch and a short boundary to the West Stand side of the ground, did not give the impression of razor-like incision.
Only Ben Coad and George Hill conceded under four runs an over, and the whole thing looked - and felt - a bit samey at times.
That said (incoming cliche alert), “the opposition are allowed to play well” - and play well they did as Leicestershire achieved their first win in the tournament for 19 months.
Indeed, to the perennial question “what is the point of Leicestershire?” they proved that the answer is by no means confined to Melton Mowbray pork pies.
After a bowling display when they served up a few too many pies for comfort, Yorkshire will be naturally keen to put things right at the Seat Unique Stadium - or Nevil Road in old money.
Matthew Fisher is fit again after a broken hand suffered on England Lions duty, and the 25-year-old played an important part in the win there last year when he took four first innings wickets before going down with a back stress fracture.
Matt Milnes, who made his comeback from the same injury against Leicestershire, sits out this week in a pre-arranged plan to manage him carefully, while Jonny Tattersall is not quite ready after a finger injury. The temptation to freshen things up is obvious.
At the same time, Yorkshire’s supporters learnt last year not to be lulled into a false sense of reality by what took place in the opening game.
Yorkshire’s victory at Bristol last April - Ottis Gibson’s first match as head coach - was their only one in the tournament all season.
Just as it proved premature to read too much into that result, with Gloucestershire going on to be relegated along with Yorkshire, so definitive conclusions cannot be read into the Leicestershire match.
However, Yorkshire’s record of seven defeats now in their last nine Championship games dating back to last season is a concern and, quite possibly, the worst sequence of results in their long and proud history.
It is why this fixture, along with next week’s trip to face Sussex at Hove, has the feel of a key phase even at this season’s early stage.
A couple of morale-boosting wins now would immediately get the show back on the road and suggest that the Leicestershire match was a one-off.
A couple of disappointing results, on the other hand, would obviously have the converse effect and render it an uphill struggle to win promotion - the minimum requirement going into the season.
Of course, Yorkshire still don’t know whether they will be hit by points deductions due to the racism crisis; Gibson is quite right, in this view, to say it would be wrong to punish the club in that way, and that Yorkshire must be allowed to move forward (a suspended points penalty would surely suffice if the powers-that-be go down that route).
While that remains a live issue, not to mention an interminable one, the first priority is to take on a Gloucestershire team who, like Leicestershire, engineered a mid-match recovery in their opening game.
It did not, in their case, inspire a memorable victory.
However, they were in some disquiet after being bowled out for 165 in their first innings in Cardiff, to which Glamorgan replied with 404 only for second innings centuries from Marcus Harris and captain Graeme van der Buuren to lead them to 569-7 declared second time, Glamorgan withstanding the loss of three early wickets to close out the draw.
As much of a challenge this week could be the weather in Bristol, which is predicted to be the proverbial mixed bag.
The Gloucestershire website advises that there could be spells of sunshine and rain which, it says, is “typical for the time of year”.
In addition, spectators are told to bring “an umbrella” as a means of combating any “wet weather”.
Something for any grandmothers present to keep in mind as they suck on eggs in the puddle-strewn stands.