Shan Masood breaks his century drought as Yorkshire CCC take charge in Cardiff
Shan Masood simply raised his bat to the Yorkshire dressing room and to a crowd of several hundred spectators, who applauded warmly in the sunlit evening, before shaking hands with his partner George Hill.
It had been 16 months since Masood’s last hundred, for Derbyshire against Worcestershire in the Championship at Derby, and deep down the feeling must have been sweet.
This was his 26th innings for Yorkshire in all cricket, the wait for that hundred elusive and frustrating; every captain likes to lead from the front, of course, and Masood is no different.
His unbeaten 113, from 158 balls with 12 fours, helped Yorkshire to 330-3 from 78 overs on a fine first day for the visiting side at Sophia Gardens.
Granted, the innings was not without blemish; there were times when Masood rode his luck with a couple of close shaves and aerial shots that landed safely; indeed, he got off the mark with an inside edge that flashed narrowly past the stumps.
But the off-drives were regal, the pulls crisp and sweet, the tucks neat and tidy and the defence mostly sound.
This was the Masood that Yorkshire signed, or thought they had signed, on a two-year contract last August, the one with the facility for making big scores and, they will hope here, of match-winning ilk.
He came to the crease in the third over after lunch when Adam Lyth chopped a ball from the left-arm seamer Jamie McIlroy into his stumps, ending an opening stand of 98 with Fin Bean.
Play had begun an hour and 40 minutes late due to rain (heatwave, what heatwave?), stealing 18 overs from the day’s allocation, although that time can be made up later in the game.
Lyth and Bean had looked in little trouble against what, it has to be said, was hardly the greatest attack that Glamorgan have ever sent into battle, with Timm van der Gugten missing with a hamstring injury and Ben Kellaway, a 19-year-old off-spinner playing only his second first-class game, thrust into the fray after just 11 overs on a slow pitch used for Friday’s one-day international between England and New Zealand.
Kellaway went wicket-less in seven overs and later did himself a mischief on the cover boundary, banging his head on the turf as he tried to make a tumbling stop, forcing him to go off; it was that sort of day for the hosts, for whom perhaps the best that could be said was they got ahead of the over-rate.
Messrs Lyth and Bean, meanwhile, go marching on and on: this was their seventh successive partnership of 50-plus in the Championship, and their 10th in 16 innings together in this year’s competition, three of which have been over 100 and six over 90. Both passed 850 Championship runs for the season in the course of this day.
Had Bean, who advanced to 93 before he was second out at 225 in the 51st over, found another seven runs, he would have become the first uncapped Yorkshire player since Richard Blakey in 1987 to score four hundreds in a Championship season.
That distinction may yet be his; the 21-year-old has had an outstanding campaign.
Whereas Lyth treated the crowd to some trademark cover-drives, Bean punched and pulled and cut with aplomb, reaching his fifty from 79 balls as he continued a purple run of form.
The last six Championship games have brought the left-hander successive scores of 114, 38, 135, 45, 46, 41, 61 and now 93. Someone give that lad a cap.
Bean’s quest for another hundred ended when he edged a drive from off-spinner Kiran Carlson to slip, where Colin Ingram took the catch to break a second-wicket partnership with Masood of 127. Moments later, Masood nearly fell in identical manner on 70 only for the ball to fly just past Ingram and away to the boundary.
James Wharton came and went, lbw pushing forward to McIlroy, the pick of an attack in which new-ball partner James Harris had a difficult day - 0-80 from 15 overs.
Masood forged on, playing with positivity and purpose in a match that could yet be affected by more bad weather, hence a need to ‘get on with it’ – not least to give the likes of debutant Ben Cliff, the 20-year-old pace bowler, time to do their stuff.
Hill certainly adopted a positive approach in his innings, striking eight boundaries in an unbeaten 51 as he shared in a stand with Masood currently worth 90.
When Hill reached his half-century just before the close, the announcer said: “George Hill’s hundred came from …” before correcting his mistake.
Perhaps he will be saying it for real on day two.
This, though, was Masood’s day, one a long time coming, one thoroughly deserved and one celebrated with a quiet dignity.