Yorkshire CCC: Dawid Malan hails team ethic as the White Rose’s resurrection begins with Easter Sunday win over Gloucestershire
As with the Biblical story, the painful events that preceded this day cannot be forgotten, but every journey back to life has to start somewhere and for Yorkshire it started with a six-wicket triumph, sealed with 10.5 overs of the contest remaining.
Left to score 211 in a minimum of 60 overs, having dismissed Gloucestershire for 359 in their second innings, after the hosts had begun day four on 253-6, Yorkshire held their nerve in the afternoon sunshine.
“It was nice for the boys to get on the field and concentrate on some cricket, and to win as we did here was fantastic,” said Malan.
“Gloucester made us work really hard but thankfully our bowlers were able to wrap it up to give us something to chase, and we managed to finish it really well in the end.
“The plan was just to bat and see where we were with 20 overs to go, but I managed to find a bit of momentum and I just kept going with it and the boys sort of dragged along with it. It was a great team performance.”
This was a good game all round, one played in remarkably good conditions for the time of year, with no hint of a stoppage for bad light let alone for rain.
The sun shone on fine hundreds from Gloucestershire’s Marcus Harris in the first innings and James Bracey in the second, which kept their side in the match on both occasions, with Zafar Gohar (40) the only other home player to get out of the 20s.
Ultimately, though, Yorkshire - who had a first innings centurion of their own in the burgeoning Brook - had too much for spirited if workmanlike opponents.
At one point, a three-day victory for Yorkshire seemed possible. That was effectively denied them by Bracey, whose century was his third in as many first-class games, and by the odd blemish in the field also, not that it mattered.
Harry Duke, the wicketkeeper, dropped Harris in the first innings when his score was 18, and he had a testing game behind the stumps - not helped by having to cope with the 90mph bullets of Haris Rauf, which had a tendency to swing after they had passed the bat.
But the 20-year-old Duke did some fine glovework too, and he also played his part with the bat; his stand of 91 for the fifth wicket with Brook in the Yorkshire first innings was a key one, and the two Harrys shared an unbroken 67 second time around to finish the job.
Bracey had 112, and Gloucestershire a lead of 104, when the hosts resumed on 253-6 on the fourth morning. It was a lovely day for cricket, with a strong but refreshing south-westerly breeze, and a good-sized crowd was scattered about the stands, along with those who were looking down from the flats and apartments high above the Ashley Down End.
On a still-true surface, it took Yorkshire 75 minutes to break through, the visitors striking twice in the space of eight balls.
First, Gohar, the 27-year-old left-arm spinner, and clearly no mug with the bat, steered Rauf to second slip, where Adam Lyth held a superb, fast chance at around head height, ending a seventh-wicket stand of 104 with Bracey. Then Steve Patterson trapped Matt Taylor leg-before to leave Gloucestershire 316-8, 167 ahead.
Bracey pulled Rauf to the mid-wicket boundary to reach his 150, Rauf following up by striking him on the helmet for the second time in his innings, forcing running repairs and a concussion test.
Josh Shaw nibbled at Rauf and was caught behind in the third over after the lunch break, Bracey then three times pulling Rauf for six as the bowler perhaps overdid the short stuff at times.
The innings ended 25 minutes after lunch, Bracey driving Patterson to short cover after striking a career-best 177 from 331 balls with 20 boundaries. Patterson was the pick of the bowlers with 4-43.
Yorkshire’s chase began cautiously and not especially convincingly as Lyth top-edged a pull to fine leg and James Wharton was cleaned up through the gate, leaving them 30-2 inside 17 overs.
But Hill and Malan added 81 in 16 overs, settling the dressing room, and it was a measure of the control and composure with which they went about their work that it came as a surprise when Hill suddenly clipped to mid-wicket.
Malan was imperious, using all his skill, all his experience, and occasionally unfurling shots of the highest order.
Gohar was slog-swept for six and Ajeet Singh Dale caressed through the covers on the up and then contemptuously dismissed to the wide mid-off boundary, Malan holding the pose for the photographers present.
The left-hander had made a run-a-ball 65 when another attempted slog-sweep for six off Zohar was taken on the boundary, by which time Yorkshire were well on the way to a fine win.