McGrath in timely reminder of what he can offer

Yorkshire's Anthony McGrath celebrates a wicket.
Yorkshire's Anthony McGrath celebrates a wicket.
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WHO needs Ajmal Shahzad?

Yorkshire certainly did not miss the pace bowler yesterday, getting on just fine without him thank you very much as they took control of this Championship match.

While the fall-out from Shahzad’s departure rumbles on, so, too, does Yorkshire’s domination of a Leicestershire side who have been utterly inferior in all departments.

It is men against boys at North Marine Road, and it is the visitors who are heading for lines and detention.

Anthony McGrath, a man whose school days are long behind him, starred for Yorkshire on a shivering day two with a timely performance that rolled back the years.

The 36-year-old all-rounder, who has effectively replaced Shahzad in the starting XI, proved there is life in the old dog yet as he showed his quality with bat and ball.

After beginning the day on 49 not out, with Yorkshire 329-5 in their first innings, McGrath lifted his score to 90 before he was ninth out, caught behind driving at the left-arm spinner Claude Henderson.

McGrath’s efforts, allied to a superlative innings from Jonny Bairstow, who took his own score from 141 to 182 before he was dismissed by Wayne White, helped Yorkshire to 447 all-out – not a bad effort after they had been sent into bat.

McGrath then worked his magic with the ball, reducing Leicestershire from 33-3 to 64-6 in reply with the successive wickets of captain Ramnaresh Sarwan, wicketkeeper Ned Eckersley and Joshua Cobb.

The former England man, who had a litany of lbw appeals rejected, rounded off the innings on 116 when he had last man Alex Wyatt caught at third slip by Phil Jaques to finish with 4-21 from 12.2 overs.

McGrath had also seen a catch grassed when Tim Bresnan put down Nadeem Malik at first slip; however, with the thermometer rooted in single figures, and with most players sporting bobble hats, it was a day when butter fingers could be fairly excused.

Not that there were any signs of those from wicketkeeper Bairstow, who got his gloves around four good catches and was generally more neat and tidy than a housekeeper.

One had to admire those hardy spectators who turned out here at North Marine Road.

Most were kitted out in attire more akin to football in freezing February than cricket watching in the month of May.

Not that Bairstow or McGrath seemed remotely fazed as they carried on from where they left off on the opening day.

McGrath was quickly to his fifty, reached from 102 balls with nine fours, while Bairstow soon followed him to the 150-mark, achieved from 228 balls with 12 fours and four sixes.

Bairstow had designs on a double century, the second of his career, as he thumped Malik nonchalantly through mid-wicket for four and then effortlessly on-drove him in a manner that is very much a trademark.

Yorkshire failed by 25 runs to gain maximum batting points within the 110-over cut-off point and lost their sixth wicket on 376 when Bairstow’s innings came to an end.

He drove the ball firmly enough towards extra-cover but picked out a swooping Jacques du Toit.

Yorkshire lost Bresnan to a run-out and Adil Rashid bowled shouldering arms before McGrath departed just short of his hundred.

The innings ended when Ryan Sidebottom top-edged to the wicketkeeper off White, who finished with 5-90 from 27 overs.

It did not take long to ascertain that Leicestershire’s batting was as poor as their bowling.

They lost their first three wickets with the total on 12 during a period of seven successive maidens from Sidebottom and Steve Patterson.

First, Sidebottom had Matthew Boyce lbw for a 10-ball duck, then the former England man removed du Toit for a fifth-ball blob with the aid of a smart catch by Bairstow.

Bairstow grabbed another smart take when Patterson located the edge of Greg Smith’s bat.

McGrath blew away the middle order, striking with his second ball from the Trafalgar Square end to pin the dangerous Sarwan lbw.

Eckersley was lbw pushing forward before McGrath had Cobb caught behind as he tried to hit over the top just after tea.

Leicestershire slipped to 64-7 when Patterson had White lbw and then to 68-8 when Robbie Joseph was caught behind off Patterson, his 100th first-class wicket.

The visitors would have fallen to 71-9 but for Bresnan’s reprieve of Malik; as it was, the obligatory ninth-wicket stand briefly held up Yorkshire’s progress.

Malik and Henderson added 36 in 12 overs – although not, it has to be said, without their share of luck – before the partnership was finally ended by Bresnan.

The England man had Henderson caught at third slip by Phil Jaques before Leicestershire – forced to follow-on – lost a wicket to the day’s final ball when Patterson trapped Smith lbw.