WORD HAS it that Steve Patterson was not necessarily going to play in this game.
One of the pivots of Yorkshire’s 2014 and 2015 County Championship title triumphs, Patterson has not been a guaranteed selection all season, much to his frustration. But if anyone needed a reminder of his quality, Patterson provided it with season’s-best figures of 4-46.
The right-arm pace bowler, who turns 34 next month, was the pick of the attack as Yorkshire dismissed Warwickshire for 251 in their second innings, the hosts moving to 56-3 at stumps on day three in pursuit of 175 for victory.
Patterson, who has one year left on his contract, has found himself pushed down the pecking order by the emergence of Ben Coad, Yorkshire’s leading wicket-taker this year with 45 Championship victims at 20.2.
The potential shown by Matthew Fisher has provided further competition, and it was only an injury to Ryan Sidebottom that created an extra pace bowling place in this game.
In marginal light yesterday, with the floodlights on full beam from the start, Yorkshire opened with Coad and Fisher after Warwickshire resumed on 49-1, 28 behind in their second innings.
The youngsters were excellent, exploiting the movement on offer through the air and off the pitch in batting conditions that were not straightforward.
As such, the resolve shown by first-class debutant Liam Banks, an 18-year-old opener who had 22 to his name overnight, was impressive, while Jonathan Trott, who resumed on nine, played extremely well.
The former England man punched Fisher for four off the back foot and then clipped Coad to the mid-wicket boundary, proving that he remains, aged 36, one of the finest batsmen in county cricket.
Banks and Trott had lifted the score to 86 – and their second-wicket stand to 51 – when Jack Brooks finally broke their partnership. The pace bowler had Banks caught behind off one that jagged back, a dismissal that brought Ian Bell to the crease.
He got off the mark by driving Brooks to the cover boundary in handsome manner, but fell with the score on 109 as Patterson claimed his first wicket of the day.
The ex-England batsman was adjudged caught behind off an inside edge, a decision with which he did not seem to agree as he swished his bat in frustration.
Trott went to a 72-ball half-century with his seventh boundary, a notable effort during a morning in which one sensed that a wicket could fall any ball.
But Patterson, who had been posing more difficult questions than Jeremy Paxman on University Challenge, finally got rid of him just after lunch, trapping him plumb in front to end an innings of 59 from 97 balls with eight fours.
After a brief rain break that accounted for one over, Patterson trapped Matthew Lamb lbw with one that nipped back off the pitch and might have kept a touch low.
It left Warwickshire 161-5 – effectively 84-5 – but Tim Ambrose and Alex Thomson combined in a stand of 48 that helped claw back the balance of power.
Enter Tim Bresnan.
The vice-captain struck an important double blow just before tea, bowling Thomson and then having Ambrose well caught low down at first slip by Alex Lees.
Ambrose made 49 from 75 balls with eight fours, playing some sweet on-drives along the way, and his departure left Warwickshire 216-7, 139 ahead.
Bresnan struck again moments after tea, Chris Wright slapping him in ugly style to mid-on, where captain Gary Ballance made no mistake.
After Yorkshire took the second new ball, Patterson claimed his fourth wicket when he sent Jeetan Patel’s middle stump cartwheeling in spectacular fashion as Warwickshire slipped to 244-9.
Patterson deserved a five-wicket haul, but Coad, who was pretty unlucky during a morning session in which he went past the outside edge several times, merited further reward also and he ended the innings by having Ryan Sidebottom caught at second slip by Adam Lyth, his 50th first-class wicket of the season.
Lyth’s joy was short-lived, the left-hander an early casualty in the Yorkshire chase when he was lbw to Sidebottom with the score on 13. Yorkshire slipped to 25-2 when Patel spun one sharply to take Lees’s outside edge, wicketkeeper Ambrose doing the rest, and the hosts lost Kraigg Brathwaite in the day’s last over when Patel had him pouched at short leg.
With Yorkshire’s relegation rivals Middlesex beating Lancashire at Lord’s, Yorkshire can ill-afford to lose this game, despite the fact that fellow strugglers Somerset are faltering in their match at Surrey.
Although defeat here might not prove terminal, how Yorkshire would boost their survival chances with a win.