LET us start with the mitigating factors.
Yorkshire were without Dawid Malan due to “personal reasons”. They lost another top-order batsman in Gary Ballance on the eve of the game with a calf strain.
There was no Joe Root or Jonny Bairstow, soon to be playing for, and rested by, England respectively. And they were up against a fine bowling attack, one with plenty of skill and variety.
Mitigating factors out of the way, Yorkshire could have few complaints with the end result, beaten by an innings and 79 runs with just 40 balls of the match remaining.
They could certainly feel aggrieved that Ben Coad, the ninth batsman out, did not appear to edge to the wicketkeeper the ball that gave Saqib Mahmood his maiden five-wicket haul in first-class cricket, umpire Alex Wharf upholding a transparently tentative appeal from the bowler, but Lancashire were ultimately worthy winners.
It was Yorkshire’s first innings defeat at Old Trafford since 1972, only their fifth innings defeat to the old enemy since the First World War, and their first defeat in a Championship fixture at Old Trafford for 21 years.
It was also their first defeat of the season against the side who now boast the only unbeaten record in the country following Gloucestershire’s defeat to Surrey at the Oval, where Yorkshire’s on-loan wicketkeeper, Jonny Tattersall, top-scored with 86 not out in the visitors’ second innings.
Victory saw Lancashire extend to 24 points their lead over Yorkshire at the top of Group Three, with the gap between second-placed Yorkshire and third-placed Northamptonshire now only two points, with the top-two qualifying for Division One to give them a crack at the Championship title later in the year.
Ultimately, Yorkshire’s batting woes finally caught up with them after they had been masked, to some extent, by the character and attitude they have shown all season. No side can be 40-7 after winning the toss, as Yorkshire were here, and expect to prevail.
“We’re absolutely gutted to lose as the game went down to the wire and we thought that we could come out with a draw,” said Yorkshire’s first-team coach Andrew Gale.
“After day one we showed a lot of character. The bowling, although they got a big total (509-9 declared), they didn’t get them in a hurry and that took time out of the game.
“I guess what’s most gutting is the way we batted on the first day. It was a pretty decent pitch that got better as the game went on, the sun was out and we were 20-6 and the game was effectively lost in that first hour.
“I’m as disappointed as the lads and I feel sorry for the members – it was the first time that they’d been allowed back in the ground and they come over for a Roses game – and we can only apologise for the way that we went about things on that first day.”
Gale spoke with typical candour, his side going down fighting after starting the day on 85-2 in their second innings, 265 adrift.
Will Fraine fell in the day’s fifth over without adding to his overnight six, his middle stump sent cartwheeling by a fine inswinging ball from Mahmood, who then uprooted nightwatchman Steve Patterson’s off stump with one that tailed away.
That left Yorkshire 92-4 but they rallied through a partnership of 59 in 27 overs between Harry Brook and George Hill, the latter taking 29 balls to get off the mark to highlight the side’s collective determination.
The second new ball did for Hill, bowled through the gate by Tom Bailey, but Brook went to his fifth half-century of the season from 104 balls with five fours, only to then perish lbw pushing forward to leg-spinner Matt Parkinson.
It should have been 185-6 with 45 overs left but Liam Livingstone dropped a simple slip chance when Dom Bess, on 17, edged a ball from Parkinson.
Harry Duke, who scored his maiden fifty in the first innings, took 39 balls to get off the mark as he, too, played with admirable composure.
The teenager, whose display in this game was a significant positive, added 58 in 28 overs with Bess, his 88-ball vigil ended when he was bowled by Luke Wood shouldering arms.
With 9.2 overs left, Yorkshire were 271-7 and just about safe, but Mahmood had Jordan Thompson caught behind and then gained the dubious wicket of the visitors’ Coad.
Parkinson captured the winning wicket, Bess edging to slip where Livingstone went from villain to hero, taking an excellent low catch before peeling away in celebration to be pursued by ecstatic team-mates in the afternoon sunshine.
Afterwards, Gale confirmed that Malan and Ballance will be back for the match against Sussex at Headingley that starts on Thursday, where Yorkshire supporters will be able to watch their team on home soil for the first time in 623 days.
A footnote here was that Lancashire had 589,000 views across the four days on their live stream, emphasising the enduring popularity of Championship and Roses cricket.
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