Steve Patterson sparkles but Yorkshire CCC go down to Essex in thriller at Headingley

AS Sir Alex Ferguson almost said: “County Championship cricket… bloody hell.”

To those who would cut the number of games, marginalise the competition, or, worse still, reduce the number of first-class counties, this was an antidote to their unwanted meddling.

For here were two teams, Yorkshire and Essex, giving it their all in a low-scoring game, a game that could have gone either way and which ultimately went the way of Essex in the closing stages of a tense third day.

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Only four overs remained when Shane Snater hit the winning runs off Ben Coad, shovelling him to the mid-wicket boundary in front of the West Stand to seal a one-wicket victory with the floodlights on and the crowd enraptured.

Ben Coad hits out on his way to a career-best 69. The Yorkshire pace bowler ensured that his side at least had something to bowl at as they left Essex to make 162 for victory at Headingley. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.comBen Coad hits out on his way to a career-best 69. The Yorkshire pace bowler ensured that his side at least had something to bowl at as they left Essex to make 162 for victory at Headingley. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com
Ben Coad hits out on his way to a career-best 69. The Yorkshire pace bowler ensured that his side at least had something to bowl at as they left Essex to make 162 for victory at Headingley. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com

Memo to Sir Andrew Strauss and his so-called High Performance Review… mess with the Championship at your peril if you know what is good for the future of the game.

Just as there had to be a winner, so there had to be a loser, and Yorkshire did well, all things considered, to give themselves a chance of winning at all.

For that, they were indebted chiefly to Coad, who thumped a career-best 69 from the No 9 position, which ensured that he and his colleagues at least had something to bowl at as Essex were left to score 162 to win, and also to Steve Patterson, who took four wickets in a seven-over spell that left the visitors in significant discomfort at 64-6 and who finished with 5-46 from 16 overs. Patterson, 38, bowled like a man with a point to prove after the club chose not to extend his contract beyond the end of the season. On this evidence, he has at least another year in him should he choose to throw in his lot with a rival club.

All that, however, is for the future.

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Caught Cook, bowled Cook. Sam Cook celebrates the wicket of Tom Kohler-Cadmore, caught at first slip by Sir Alastair Cook. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.comCaught Cook, bowled Cook. Sam Cook celebrates the wicket of Tom Kohler-Cadmore, caught at first slip by Sir Alastair Cook. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com
Caught Cook, bowled Cook. Sam Cook celebrates the wicket of Tom Kohler-Cadmore, caught at first slip by Sir Alastair Cook. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com

For on this day of compelling cricket and fluctuating fortunes, Essex almost made a mess of it and Yorkshire almost pulled a probable defeat out of the fire.

The situation was perhaps 60-40 in Essex’s favour at the start of the day, with Yorkshire 87-2 in their second innings, four runs behind, and no doubt still bemoaning the loss of George Hill to what proved to be the final ball of the second day, a key moment.

It was not much of a batting morning, either, with the floodlights on and a distinct autumnal nip in the air, but Tom Kohler-Cadmore got the scoreboard ticking with three boundaries off Sam Cook, whom he pulled, cut and then hit over the top.

Alas for Kohler-Cadmore, he was out next ball after hitting down the ground, edging Cook to his namesake Sir Alastair at first slip. Fin Bean, 41 overnight, then cover-drove Cook imperiously to the foot of the West Stand and then flicked Snater off his pads to reach his maiden first-class fifty from 111 balls with his 11th boundary.

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Well batted, young man. Yorkshire's Fin Bean celebrates his maiden first-class fifty. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.comWell batted, young man. Yorkshire's Fin Bean celebrates his maiden first-class fifty. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com
Well batted, young man. Yorkshire's Fin Bean celebrates his maiden first-class fifty. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com

Bean did not advance, trapped lbw by a full-length delivery from Jamie Porter, and Yorkshire’s morning gradually deteriorated, their hopes of setting a really challenging target falling by the wayside.

Jonny Tattersall steered a short-ish delivery from Ben Allison to Sir Alastair Cook at first slip; Will Fraine was bowled by a ball from leg-spinner Matt Critchley which seemed to go straight on, and Yorkshire lost a fifth wicket in the session when Jordan Thompson’s poor run with the bat continued when he lofted Critchley to deep mid-wicket, leaving the hosts 158-7. Enter Coad, who thumped a 51-ball half-century and celebrated by lofting Critchley beyond mid-wicket for six.

Coad and Matty Revis shared 80 for the eighth-wicket off just 102 balls (Coad’s contribution 65) in a blizzard of runs straight after lunch.

Revis was bowled by Porter from one that kept low; Coad played back fatally to Critchley and was also bowled, and Patterson was last out, caught behind off Porter, the most successful bowler with 4-64.

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Steve Patterson got rid of Sir Alastair Cook in both innings. Here he is being congratulated after removing the former Test captain on day two. Picture Jonathan GawthorpeSteve Patterson got rid of Sir Alastair Cook in both innings. Here he is being congratulated after removing the former Test captain on day two. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
Steve Patterson got rid of Sir Alastair Cook in both innings. Here he is being congratulated after removing the former Test captain on day two. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Nick Browne fell in the second over of the Essex chase, caught at third slip by Fraine off Thompson, before Patterson got to work in his deadly burst.

His four-wicket sequence was broken by Coad’s first of the innings when he trapped Feroze Khushi with another ball that kept low, and Yorkshire, at that stage, felt like the favourites. When Adam Rossington clipped Hill’s second ball after replacing Patterson firmly to short mid-wicket, where Fraine took a superb reflex catch, Essex were 93-7, still 69 shy of their target.

They were indebted to an eighth-wicket stand of 63 between Snater and Allison, the former top-scoring with an unbeaten 65 from 51 balls with nine fours and a six, a typically positive, attacking innings.

Allison, bowled on eight by a Hill no-ball when the total was 119, fell with six runs needed when Coad had him caught behind.

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Patterson then captured his fifth wicket when, with just one required, Sam Cook drove firmly to Adam Lyth at cover, leaving Essex 161-9.

Patterson almost found Porter’s outside edge to pull off the tie, but Snater, fittingly, sealed it for the visitors, as the Championship once again proved its value.