Northants v Yorkshire: Steve Patterson leads the way as White Rose take control

THERE is no more parsimonious bowler than Steve Patterson.

The Yorkshire captain is more miserly than Ebenezer Scrooge before that episode with the ghosts of Christmas past, present and those yet to come.

Patterson gives so little away with the ball that not even Charles Dickens could have invented a character so frugal.

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At one stage, Patterson’s figures yesterday were 11 overs, eight maidens, eight runs, no wickets. His closing figures were: 15-9-14-0.

Steve Patterson of Yorkshire bowls during the LV= Insurance County Championship match at The County Ground. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

In this tale of two counties at Wantage Road, Patterson, who turns 39 in October, epitomised the nip-and-tuck nature of the cricket played.

“Bowling dry”, as they refer to it in the trade, he relentlessly hammered away on a good line and length, giving the batsmen nothing and tempting them to error.

On a ground that possesses an old signal box, the only unaltered feature of it, in fact, since Northamptonshire acquired first-class status in the early 1900s, Patterson chugged in like an old steam train to deliver ball after ball of pinpoint accuracy.

Choo-choo, choo-choo… the train departing from Platform Patterson might just be the most economical and efficient in the county game still, and although penetration proved elusive, one could only marvel at Patterson’s reliability and precision.

Dimuth Karunaratne of Yorkshire plays the ball to the boundary. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

If the game within a game was paradoxically compelling – off-spinner Dom Bess contributing his share of dot balls in figures of 22-9-31-2 – the bigger picture was this: Yorkshire, in their second innings, ended day two on 85-1 in their second innings, a lead of 177, after Northamptonshire were dismissed for 204 in reply to Yorkshire’s first innings score of 296.

Whisper it gently, ye Yorkshire fans, but it is looking good for two wins out of two to start the Championship season.

It felt as though Yorkshire were ahead at the start of the day, when the hosts resumed on 26-2.

It was cloudier and much cooler than the first day, with a bitter north-easterly blowing towards the old signal box, which housed the scorers and the press back in the day and now does a trade in scorecards and books.

It did not take long for the third wicket to fall, Jordan Thompson striking with the ninth ball of the morning when Matt Kelly, the nightwatchman, sliced a pull high in the air to wicketkeeper Harry Duke.

But Yorkshire did not bowl well in the day’s early throes; at one point, eight boundaries arrived in the space of six overs, while Thompson spilled a routine catch at cover and Haris Rauf let a four slip through his legs while fielding at mid-on.

Thompson’s reprieve of Emilio Gay on 31 inconvenienced Yorkshire in the context of the innings, if surely not the game, a normally splendid fielder spilling the opportunity off Matthew Revis. Gay went on to top score with 65 and batted for over three-and-a-half hours; the young left-hander drove nicely through the on-side and was resolute in defence.

Revis was not to be denied. In his next over, the 20-year-old, who replaced Matty Fisher (stiff back), uprooted the off stump of Will Young, who conceivably departed the scene while muttering to himself, “I think I better leave right now”, or words to that effect.

Another soon to leave was Saif Zaib – in Revis’s next over, in fact, when he pushed forward outside off stump and was caught behind, leaving Northants 85-5, still 62 short of avoiding the follow-on. They slipped to 115-6 in the penultimate over before lunch when Rob Keogh swept Bess to short fine-leg, where Revis took an excellent catch over his shoulder.

The afternoon session was one for the connoisseur as Patterson and Bess kept runs to a premium. Although not quite in the same bracket as the infamous Yorkshire go-slow here in 1978, it was not a million miles off as Gay and Luke Procter added 49 inside 29 overs, including one spell of nine runs in 11 overs.

Eventually, Bess’s persistence paid off when Gay flicked him to leg-slip, and after Revis claimed a third scalp when Lewis McManus edged low to second slip, where Adam Lyth’s excellent low catch and non-celebration fooled spectators that the ball had not carried, the second new ball wrapped up the innings.

Haris Rauf sent Gareth Berg’s off stump cartwheeling in the direction of nearby Abingdon Park, then Thompson trapped Ben Sanderson all ends up to finish with 4-54.

Leading by 92, Yorkshire accelerated effortlessly towards the close, Lyth and Dimuth Karunaratne sharing 73 before the latter was bowled. The left-handers played nicely and showed all their class. It is a long way back for Northants from here.