Yorkshire CCC clinch Championship win despite familiar problems at Northampton

A DODGY first-innings batting display. A good fightback with the ball. Players standing up at key moments in a tight game. Yorkshire ultimately running out victorious.

Yorkshire’s Harry Duke, right, leads the celebrations after taking a catch to dismiss Simon Kerrigan.  Picture: Andy Kearns/Getty Images
Yorkshire’s Harry Duke, right, leads the celebrations after taking a catch to dismiss Simon Kerrigan. Picture: Andy Kearns/Getty Images

The County Championship may have been in abeyance these past few weeks, allowing the T20 Blast to take centre stage, but it was the same old story from a Yorkshire point of view.

Once again, for all their frailties with the bat and their ongoing quest for “the perfect performance”, Yorkshire found a way to get the job done.

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It is what the good teams do. It is what this Yorkshire team does.

Yorkshire duo Ben Coad and Harry Duke successfully appeal to the umpire for the wicket of Tom Taylor of Northamptonshire. Picture: Andy Kearns/Getty Images)

The margin of triumph was not quite so close as when these sides met at Headingley in late April/early May.

Then, Yorkshire’s one-run success was more hair-raising than an ‘80s rock star caught up in a hurricane.

This 53-run success – sealed with 19 overs left on day three –was much more comfortable but still another example of Yorkshire’s ability to get over the line.

It is why they, and not Northants, will be playing in the new Division One, why they, and not Northants, will have a crack at winning the Championship outright and the Bob Willis Trophy when the tournament moves on to its new stage later next month.

Yorkshire will be mathematically certain of their place in Division One should Glamorgan fail to beat Sussex in their ongoing game at Hove, while Yorkshire would require only a maximum of two points from their final group match against Lancashire at Emerald Headingley, starting on Sunday, should Glamorgan not win.

In other words, barring a hurricane or the end of days, Yorkshire are home and hosed – as are Lancashire, the only question being which one will top the group.

After a fifth win in nine Championship matches this season, with Harry Brook’s second-innings 113, Dom Bess’s match haul of 9-102 and George Hill’s first-innings 71 the standout contributions, Yorkshire first XI coach Andrew Gale was left to reflect on a familiar path to success.

“To get bowled out for 150 (first innings) – it’s the same old story and we’re fighting back,” he said. “We should have probably got 250; I thought that was about right on that pitch.

“Dom got us back in the game (with seven first-innings wickets) because we could have found ourselves dead and buried. Then, the way we went about things in our second innings, we batted them out of the game and then took early wickets, and I thought we deserved the win in the end.”

Although Yorkshire’s lead was just 147 with six second-innings wickets left at the start of the day, it always felt as if they had the advantage on a used surface that offered encouragement to bowlers.

They themselves felt that a target of around 200 would be difficult to chase, and they ultimately left one of 206 after their final four wickets added a further 58 before Yorkshire were eventually dismissed for 217 half-an-hour before lunch.

Brook did the bulk of the scoring, advancing from his overnight 76 to a third first-class hundred reached from 168 balls. What made his innings particularly impressive was its maturity and restraint; too often, Brook has got to fifty and then got out, with Gale’s challenge to him being to make more hundreds.

“Harry’s had a great few weeks in T20, but that big innings in red-ball cricket had been missing, even though he’s had five (Championship) fifties,” said Gale. “But that match-winning innings was always there and will give him confidence, and he’s a very grounded lad who’s hungry for runs.”

Gale admitted that he had been half-expecting to be told that Brook had been called into England’s one-day squad after Covid forced a complete change of personnel ahead of the three-match series against Pakistan.

“When my phone rang at half-six this morning from Mo Bobat (ECB performance director), and he told me the situation, I was pretty convinced he was going to tell me Harry Brook is leaving as well as Dawid Malan,” said Gale.

“It would have been a good time to pick him because he’s so full of confidence, and I’m gutted for him in that sense because I don’t think he’s too far away. But, if he keeps doing that and keeps his head down, that call-up will come whether it’s next week, in the winter or next year.”

Northants’ hopes of pulling off a heist were soon in peril when their gun batsman Ricardo Vasconcelos was pinned in the final over before lunch by the excellent Steve Patterson.

Wickets were shared as the hosts slipped to 43-5 before a stand of 54 between Luke Procter (42*) and Tom Taylor (40) gave them hope. A ninth-wicket stand of 49 between Procter and Simon Kerrigan also held up Yorkshire before, typically, they just found a way.