Potential room for tactical improvement as Yorkshire CCC chase Cardiff triumph

YORKSHIRE cricket has always been a hard school.

When a young Hedley Verity took 7-26 against Hampshire at Bournemouth in 1930, expecting a pat on the back from his colleagues, he was brought down to earth in no uncertain terms.

“Seven for 26?” growled the gnarled old pro Emmott Robinson. “Ah nivver saw such bowling. It owt to ‘a’ bin seven for 22. Whativver were t’doin’ to gie AK Judd that fower?”

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Yorkshire won by 10 wickets, but it didn’t matter to Robinson. He saw room for improvement, however slight, at the start of a decade in which Yorkshire’s standards were so high that they won seven titles in nine seasons.

Matty Revis took 5-50 at Sophia Gardens. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comMatty Revis took 5-50 at Sophia Gardens. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Matty Revis took 5-50 at Sophia Gardens. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

The moral of the story sprang to mind at Sophia Gardens, where Yorkshire will hope to prevail on day four after making Glamorgan follow-on, 227 behind, with their score currently 120-2.

Yorkshire have clearly done well to gain the upper hand, posting 500 with the bat and sticking to their task with the ball and in the field.

But their tactics have been rather strange at times, and against better teams, or in a higher division, might well have been punished more than they were here.

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There was no better example than when Yorkshire used five different bowlers inside the first nine overs with the second new ball, a strategy made all the more puzzling by the fact that Ben Coad took two wickets with the first two balls with the new cherry as Glamorgan slipped to 217-9.

Sophia Gardens cut a damp scene before play got under way on day three. Pic by National World.Sophia Gardens cut a damp scene before play got under way on day three. Pic by National World.
Sophia Gardens cut a damp scene before play got under way on day three. Pic by National World.

Instead of the expected quick kill, seemingly there for the taking, Yorkshire gave up a last wicket partnership of 56 in nine overs between Andy Gorvin (47) and Jamie McIlroy (30 not out), both career bests, amid a blizzard of boundaries and short-ball tactics that might have made sense with the old ball on the slow surface, but which were difficult to comprehend otherwise.

After his two-in-two breakthrough, Coad was withdrawn from the attack - no doubt as a means of conserving energy considering his importance in the follow-on, for is there no doubt that he is Yorkshire’s best bowler.

But Coad had hardly expended any energy at the time, and Yorkshire let Glamorgan off the hook, the curious merry-go-round of bowling changes emblematic of an overall strategy that seemed either too funky on the one hand or two fixed and passive on the other, exemplified by a pre-lunch plan which seemed to consist of Dom Bess tying up one end (he bowled 15 overs unchanged) while Matty Revis tried to bounce out the batsmen at the other, with three leg-side fielders set deep for catches that never arrived.

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Not until half-an-hour before lunch - albeit in a session in which five overs were lost to rain after a delayed start of 30 minutes - did Shan Masood change the bowling, George Hill belatedly introduced as Yorkshire let the match drift during a session in which they took - and deserved - just the one wicket.

That came when Revis was successful with a short delivery, arrowing a good one into the ribs of the right-handed Kiran Carlson from around the wicket, the Glamorgan captain lobbing the ball obligingly to James Wharton at short-leg.

Carlson, who made 64, added 73 for the seventh-wicket with Dan Douthwaite, the concussion substitute, who went on to 37 before Coad pinned him with that second new ball.

Coad then bowled James Harris with an excellent delivery that seemed to move away just enough.

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From 100-6 on day two, Glamorgan would have been pleased to get up towards 300, Gorvin and McIlroy throwing caution to the wind but also playing some handsome strokes. Gorvin showed his ability by lofting Hill over the long-off boundary - as then did McIlroy when pulling Revis for six towards the scoreboard.

On a sometimes cloudy, sometimes sunny day, the wind light and the temperature pleasant, Revis finally put an end to Glamorgan’s fun and games when Gorvin was bowled making room trying to hit through the off-side, Revis’s 5-50 a career-best effort and further confirmation that Yorkshire have a fine all-rounder on their hands.

Coad ended with 3-17, Bess and Jordan Thompson taking a wicket apiece.

If Yorkshire had two Ben Coads, a tantalising thought, they would already be home and celebrating victory. The 29-year-old was straight into his stride again in the second innings, having Zain ul-Hassan edging the third ball of it to Hill’s right at first slip. Adam Lyth took a catch in the same position when Bess found Colin Ingram’s outside edge to leave Glamorgan 30-2.

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But the hosts dug in through Eddie Bryom and Sam Northeast, with Yorkshire forced to use double spin towards the end in fading light. It nearly brought a wicket when Lyth found Byrom’s outside edge on 48, the ball deflecting to safety off the wicketkeeper’s gloves, before conditions claimed the final five overs.