Yorkshire were sufficiently concerned that rain would run their hopes of a final day victory against Nottinghamshire – after they had passed up the chance to enforce the follow-on on day two - that they arranged for their “Blotter” to be brought over at 5.00 yesterday morning from their Headingley headquarters some 70 miles away.
After two hours of blotting the saturated outfield, play was able to start on time and Yorkshire romped to a 305-run win after Notts resumed on 61-3.
Had there been an official man-of-the match, the “Blotter” would have been a strong contender, with Yorkshire’s 21-point triumph closing the gap to five points on leaders Middlesex.
If Yorkshire had not prevailed, they might have been tempted to get “blottoed” hours after calling for the “Blotter”, following their decision to bat again with a first innings lead of 188.
That decision, unanimous in the dressing room according to first team coach Jason Gillespie, was not quite so unanimous among the Yorkshire supporters, who could be heard debating it in and outside the ground for two days with all the gravitas of whether a nation should go to war.
But, as William Shakespeare once scribbled, ‘all’s well that ends well”, and history will remember the result first and foremost.
For Gillespie, it was vindication of Yorkshire’s approach as they made suitably light work of the division’s bottom club after recovering from a perilous 51-6 on the opening day.
“It was the right call (to bat again),” said Gillespie.
“People had a pop at us for not enforcing the follow-on, but we stick by what we believe is the best opportunity to win the game of cricket, and we were vindicated there.
“The bottom line is, it was a very important result against a very good side.
“Having been 51-6 on the first day, to win by over 300 runs, this team never ceases to amaze me.
“I can’t be any more proud of them. There are no words to describe it.”
After the torrential rain of the previous night, the “Blotter” went about its business beneath sunny skies as summer returned to North Marine Road. Technically, it did its work so well that Notts even lost a wicket before the official start time of 11, with the clock showing 10.59 when Tom Moores fell to the day’s fourth ball.
Moores, the 19-year-old son of former England head coach Peter, had played with great maturity to make 41 on the third evening.
He had not added to his overnight score – and neither had Notts – when Tim Bresnan located his edge from the Trafalgar Square end, Adam Lyth doing the rest at second slip.
Notts fell to 77-5 when Samit Patel perished after half-an-hour, adjudged caught behind off Bresnan by umpire Neil Mallender.
Patel stood his ground in echoes of Michael Lumb’s dismissal the previous evening, when he, too, felt that Mallender had wrongly given him out caught behind, and the visitors’ cause became utterly hopeless when Bresnan claimed his fifth wicket, Chris Read edging to Jake Lehmann at fourth slip.
Bresnan has never had a six-wicket haul in his distinguished career, and this was only his eighth “five-fer” in first-class cricket.
He had to content himself with career-best figures of 5-36, and his best match haul of 8-51 too, his spell of 3-9 in 31 balls during an eight-over burst yesterday morning ensuring that there would be no unexpected resistance from the visiting team.
That is not to say that they put up the white flag, however, on a day when it would probably have blown away in any case such was the strength of the south-westerly wind. As the red-and-white pin-striped deckchairs flapped in front of the Festival marquee, and as the washing hanging outside the houses at the Trafalgar Square End enjoyed a late-summer airing, Notts showed fight through Brendan Taylor and Brett Hutton.
The pair negotiated the 80 minutes remaining until lunch before Hutton fell to the third ball after the break, drawn forward by a tantalising delivery from Ryan Sidebottom from the Peasholm Park End and caught behind by wicketkeeper Andrew Hodd.
Taylor fell to the third delivery of the next over when he lobbed a short ball from Jack Brooks to cover, having resisted gamely for over two-and-a-half hours, and Brooks bowled Luke Fletcher with the next delivery to leave Notts 130-9.
Brooks wrapped it up at 2pm in his next over, Imran Tahir turning to short-leg as the pace bowler ended with 4-35, Notts all out for 146. Yorkshire left the field to a standing ovation from the 2,676 crowd, which lifted the match attendance to 15,283, a ringing endorsement for England’s finest outground.