Now we have put the same task to Martyn Moxon, the club’s director of cricket, and one in a long line of outstanding openers to have represented Yorkshire.
Moxon, who opened with the likes of the great Geoff Boycott, played 277 first-class games for the county between 1981 and 1997, scoring 18,973 runs at 43.71 with 41 hundreds. But picking his top five was not easy.
1 – 274* v Worcestershire at New Road, 1994
“I’d put my career-best score as No 1 and also because we won the game,” said Moxon, who captained Yorkshire to victory by an innings and 61 runs.
“Worcestershire scored 350-odd in their first innings and we were approaching their total with about three wickets down on day three. Their team had been putting me under pressure to declare behind to make a game of it, as they saw it, and they were in my ear all the time saying, ‘you’re killing the game’, blah, blah, blah. But I thought our best chance was to bat on, try and get a good lead and put them under pressure in their second innings.
“We managed to get up to 480-odd and declared with about half-an-hour left, and Pete Hartley got three wickets in that half-hour and we finished them off on day four.”
Were you tempted to bat on for a triple hundred?
“It was the timing really with us having about half-an-hour left on day three, which is the worst possible time as an opposition batsman when you’ve been in the field for a long time.
“It was one of those occasions when you try to do the thing that the opposition would least like you to do, and it worked out beautifully. I could have gone on to 300 perhaps, but I was pleased with the innings for the length of time I had to concentrate.”
2 – 203* v Kent at Headingley, 1995
“I was on the field for the entire match, finished not out in both innings and we won the game – perfect.”
As neat a summary as any, it was also Moxon’s highest score in Yorkshire, with four of his five career double hundreds having come on the road.
Moxon’s 203 came out of 462-7 declared in the first innings after Kent put his Yorkshire team into bat. Moxon shared 132 for the first-wicket with Michael Vaughan, Kent replying with 234 – including a hat-trick by Darren Gough – and then 365 following-on, featuring a century by the Sri Lankan Aravinda de Silva. Moxon hit 65 not out in the second innings to seal an eight-wicket win.
“Obviously the double hundred milestone at any time is special, but to help to put us in a strong position and then to finish the job off in the second innings made that stand out,” said Moxon. “Also the endurance aspect of it in being on the field for the whole game personally was another factor.”
3 – 127 v Lancashire at Headingley, 1985
“Patrick Patterson, the West Indies fast bowler, was playing,” remembered Moxon, “and all I can recall is that it was a day where it was raining on-and-off and the wicket was quite tricky. It was a bit uneven and because of the rain it was slightly damp and seaming around. Because we were on-and-off all day, Patterson was able to keep having a rest and keep coming at us time after time.”
Moxon made his runs out of 328-9 declared as Yorkshire responded to Lancashire’s 327-8 declared, the visitors’ innings featuring five wickets for Peter Hartley and a hundred for Neil Fairbrother.
“Patterson had great pace and was aggressive,” said Moxon. “They had two international bowlers in him and Paul Allott, and to get a hundred in those challenging circumstances was a good effort, I think. The innings stood out for me because of that challenge of continually having to start my innings again and the fact that Patterson was able to bowl pretty much all the time because he was rested.”
The three-day match was affected by the weather and finished as a draw.
4 – 137 v Nottinghamshire at Headingley, 1996
“A one-day game in the old NatWest Trophy and one of those few occasions when everything from ball one just clicked into place,” said Moxon, whose innings was his highest in Yorkshire in one-day cricket.
He scored his runs from 157 balls with 13 fours and two sixes out of a total of 345-5 from 60 overs, then comfortably Yorkshire’s highest score in one-day cricket.
Moxon and Michael Vaughan got the side off to a fine start with an opening stand of 143, and after Vaughan fell for 64, the Australian batsman Michael Bevan hit a quickfire 69.
Notts were blown away for 140 in reply as Yorkshire won by 205 runs.
“It was all so fluent for me on that particular day,” added Moxon. “I remember it was a lovely summer’s day, a good pitch, and everything just clicked. The team total was a pretty big one back in the day.”
5 – 129* v Surrey at The Oval, 1991
“Similar to the Notts game in that things were very smooth that particular innings,” said Moxon, of a fixture in the old Refuge Assurance 40-over League. “The difference on that occasion, though, was that we were trying to chase a total down against a good Surrey team that included Waqar Younis.” The great Pakistan fast bowler took only 1-34 from eight overs as Yorkshire chased 228 to win by eight wickets with 3.5 overs to spare. “I was particularly happy with a) how I played Waqar and also b) the spinner, (James) Boiling,” said Moxon.
“The way I was able to manipulate the field against him in particular stands out, not enabling him to bowl at me.”
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