Warwickshire v Yorkshire: Lack of confidence evident again as Yorkshire suffer late collapse

IT had all been going so well.

Yorkshire, put into bat, had apparently made a mockery of that decision to reach 182-1 as the tea interval approached.

Acting captain Joe Sayers and Adam Lyth were batting impressively and had added 134 for the second wicket in 46 overs.

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Warwickshire, bereft of ideas and lacking inspiration, looked as though they could not get off the field quickly enough for a welcome brew and the chance to regroup.

Then, in the penultimate over before tea, Sayers edged a delivery from left-arm spinner Chris Metters to Rikki Clarke at slip to depart for 84. It was a bolt from the blue on an overcast afternoon and put a spring into the step of a Warwickshire side who had hitherto been a clear second-best.

After tea, Yorkshire collapsed in a manner befitting a team short on form and low in confidence.

Including the dismissal of Sayers, seven wickets tumbled for 70 runs in 33 overs as the visitors limped to 254-8 at stumps, leaving a day that had been overwhelmingly theirs in an intriguingly-balanced state come close of play.

When analysed in the context of 182-1, Yorkshire’s day was ultimately disappointing – particularly given that relegation rivals Worcestershire finished on 209-6 in reply to Lancashire’s 161 at New Road and that bottom club Hampshire closed on 124-1 in response to Somerset’s 204 at Taunton, thereby giving the relegation picture an unexpected twist.

In a season in which Yorkshire have paid on numerous occasions for sub-standard sessions, here was another to add to the tally.

When analysed in the context of being sent into bat, however, and the fact they are playing a side who are second in the Championship and who thrashed them out of sight at Headingley last week, it was perhaps not the worst total in the world.

Title-chasing Warwickshire will still be happier with life, particularly in light of leaders Lancashire’s situation, although we will be better placed to judge Yorkshire’s efforts once the home side have begun their first innings today.

In fairness to Warwickshire captain Jim Troughton, there was sufficient reason to suggest his decision to bowl first was not entirely unjustified.

But his pace attack did not serve him well in the early exchanges when there was enough movement through the air to reward the time-honoured virtues of line and length. Instead, Sayers and opening partner Joe Root did not have to play as often as they should have done, while the pair displayed solid technique against the moving ball, defending tightly and leaving sensibly.

As Warwickshire feasted their eyes on occasional moments of appreciable movement, the bowlers perhaps got a little bit carried away and, consequently, lost their discipline.

The same could hardly be said of Sayers, who, for much of a chilly day, led from the front in the absence of injured club captain Andrew Gale and Jacques Rudolph, who has returned to South Africa for a brief national training camp.

Against an attack that welcomed back Chris Woakes from international duty and Clarke from injury, Sayers played some handsome strokes – particularly through the off-side.

Clarke was several times driven with power and something approaching disdain, while Keith Barker – one of Yorkshire’s scourges at Headingley last week – was effortlessly clipped to the mid-on boundary.

So comfortable did Sayers and Root appear, it was something of a surprise when Root fell with the total on 48 in the 19th over, bowled by Clarke as he drove expansively down the wrong line. His dismissal brought Lyth to the crease and the left-hander – so often coruscating – was initially circumspect as he helped Yorkshire into lunch on 83-1.

Lyth began to open out after the break and struck the first 25 runs off the bat in the afternoon session during a half-hour period in which Sayers failed to score.

But having gone into lunch on 47, Sayers went to a splendid fifty from 116 deliveries with seven boundaries, Lyth following him to the landmark one ball faster with a pulled six off Clarke to a short boundary on the Pershore Road side.

After Sayers’s departure, Warwickshire bossed the evening entertainment.

Anthony McGrath was caught at second slip by Clarke playing back to Chris Wright before Metters knocked the stuffing out of Yorkshire with two wickets in four balls. First, he had Jonny Bairstow caught at the second attempt by Clarke at slip from an attempted cut stroke.

Then he ended Lyth’s innings on 74 when he won an lbw decision to leave Yorkshire 209-5.

Adil Rashid fended at Barker to give Clarke his fourth slip catch, and Gary Ballance was held in the gully after being turned around by Woakes.

Ajmal Shahzad departed just before the end when Clarke had him caught in the slips by Will Porterfield – moments after Yorkshire had claimed a second batting bonus point.