Yorkshire CCC get rain-affected draw but neither Ottis Gibson or Leicestershire are satisfied
While Yorkshire have nothing but pride left to play for, Leicestershire’s slim chance of adding promotion to their Metro Bank One-Day Cup success was effectively washed away as their LV= Insurance County Championship match against Yorkshire finished as a draw following more rain on day four at Grace Road.
Every effort was made by the ground staff to make the playing area fit to resume after heavy showers after lunch but after the teams had been off the field for three and a half hours, umpires Neil Bainton and Neil Pratt found that parts of the outfield were still wet and abandoned the contest just before 5pm.
The Foxes, in third place in the Division Two table, knew that only a win in this match would be enough to keep alive their chance of travelling to Chester-le-Street for the final round of fixtures next week with any realistic chance of joining their hosts, Durham, in Division One next season.
To rub salt in Leicestershire’s wounds, they also lose one of their three bonus points because of a slow over-rate.
With promotion rivals Worcestershire held to a draw against Durham at New Road with the three bonus points, it leaves a 22-point gap between the sides going into the final round next week.
That means Worcestershire - with five wins to Leicestershire’s three - need only to pick up two bonus points in their final match against Yorkshire at Headingley to confirm their own promotion and leave the Foxes disappointed even were they to take maximum points at Chester-le-Street.
Gibson, who has seen his Yorkshire side rained off time and again this season, said: “The frustration levels are sky-high. Here we are now this afternoon standing around like we did at the start of the game four days ago when we were off for the wind.
“The game was boiling up nicely, and it could have been a really interesting finish this afternoon. But the weather has put paid to another Yorkshire match, which is desperately disappointing.
“First innings, we let ourselves down with the bat. The pitch started very green, but I don’t think the pitch itself contributed to some of our dismissals.
“It was good to see us bat a lot better in the second innings, especially to see James Wharton getting runs. He’s someone we think really highly of, so it was nice to see him knuckle down after he misjudged one in the first innings. He was really fluent in the second innings.
“Lythy and Beany have been outstanding for us all season. I think they’re both in the 900s for runs (in the Championship). It was the fourth time they’ve put on a hundred, and we’ve had a solid opening partnership all year. That’s a real positive.
“On the negative side, yesterday afternoon we got them 140-9. We put ourselves in a position to win and let it slip through dropped catches and some pretty ordinary bowling. They were allowed to score too freely. They scored 90 runs in an hour, and it changed the dynamic of the game.
“At the beginning of the day, it was interesting. If they bowled well and got us a couple down, which they did, we were under pressure. But we got to a point where we were saying ‘right, how many do we want to defend?
“We were trying to win the game one way or another, but the weather didn’t allow it.”
Leicestershire felt a win could be within their grasp as they reduced Yorkshire to 140-4 in their second innings on the final morning, leaving the visitors effectively 62-4 with still potentially 82 overs remaining in the contest.
Yorkshire were 225-4, 147 in front, with James Wharton unbeaten on 58 and George Hill on 32 when the players left the field for what turned out to be the last time at 1.32pm.
After the final day began on time and in sunny conditions, Leicestershire’s bowlers made two breakthroughs in the first 35 minutes and a third on the hour but any notion that they might run through Yorkshire’s batting in short order dissipated in what remained of the first session.
Chris Wright sent middle stump out of the ground to remove nightwatchman Ben Coad, Tom Scriven claimed an important scalp when Shan Masood edged to second slip, and Will Davis struck with his first ball of the day as Adam Lyth stepped across his stumps to be pinned in front trying to work the ball to leg.
At that point, with Wharton having edged Scriven just short of second slip the over before, Yorkshire were wobbling a little at 140-4, just 62 in front.
But after Hill had taken three boundaries in as many balls off Davis and Wharton picked up three fours off Scott Currie in the next over, the momentum shifted enough for Yorkshire to stretch their advantage to 131 by lunch with no further losses.
A sumptuous cover drive gave Wharton a 10th four and his fifty - a third in just eight first-class matches - immediately after the interval. There were still 65 overs left in the match but even given good weather, the chances of a positive outcome were shrinking, unless the captains were amenable to reaching one via a contrived route.
But only 22 balls could be bowled in the afternoon before the first of three heavy downpours forced the players off the field.
It meant that only 147 overs of cricket had been possible over the whole four days, with no play possible at all on day two.