Yorkshire CCC set up match-winning chance against Glamorgan in Cardiff
Inside Sophia Gardens, the park in which the cricket ground is housed, the vast bank of trees at the River Taff end stood dark and imposing beneath overcast skies.
There was a much fresher feel to the weather, with the recent heatwave a fading memory as spectators arrived for the second day’s play.
They took their places - some dressed for summer, but most now for autumn - in the dark blue seats in the 16,000-capacity venue, a few hundred loyal and hardy souls scattered here and there like leaves in a field.
For much of this day in deepest south Wales, where Yorkshire took their first innings score from 330-3 to 500 before Glamorgan replied with 150-6, there was an inescapable sense of the changing seasons.
It will not be long now before the campaign is over (less than three weeks) and the descent towards winter starts, a melancholy thought for the game’s devotees.
With talk at Sophia Gardens - among the natives at least - focusing on Wales’s narrow win against Fiji at the Rugby World Cup, it felt like the cricket was slowly winding down.
Neither side has much to play for but pride, the match destined to slip into the annals of obscurity, at least in terms of the bigger picture.
For the players, of course, more ‘process-driven’ than bigger-picture oriented, there are always runs and wickets to be had. Players such as Shan Masood, for instance, the Yorkshire captain who, after waiting 16 months to score a hundred, almost hit two in the space of one innings, the Pakistani extending his overnight 113 to 192 before he was seventh out with the total at 482.
It was a fine performance - Masood’s first three-figure contribution for the club, and his eighth score of 150-plus in first-class cricket, two of which were doubles.
He would have been disappointed not to make this a third, getting out in rather tame fashion when he pushed James Harris to Sam Northeast at cover; it was the third time that Masood had fallen in the nervous 190s.
Oh to know that feeling, some batsmen would say, with Masood at least ‘going big’ on a day that did see some sunshine in the final session before cloud returned.
After a shower delayed the start by 30 minutes, which in turn prevented time being made up from the previous day that was lost to rain, Masood got his eye in once more with a silky off-driven boundary off the medium-pacer Andy Gorvin.
At the other end, George Hill, who had played beautifully for 51 on day one, also picked up from where he left off, square-driving Harris to the foot of the pavilion atop which the flags of Wales, Glamorgan CCC and Yorkshire CCC fluttered in a gentle wind.
Already facing an uphill battle, Glamorgan lost a frontline bowler when Ben Kellaway, the 19-year-old off-spinner, had to shipped out of the contest after banging his head trying to make a diving stop on the boundary on day one (Dan Douthwaite, the 26-year-old all-rounder who came in as a concussion substitute, was not considered a like-for-like replacement and thus unable to bowl).
Hill added 20 to his score before he fell after 40 minutes’ play, lbw pushing forward to Harris. Jonny Tattersall was strangled down the leg-side off Gorvin before Masood and Matty Revis added 53, Revis’s departure - bowled trying to reverse-sweep Kiran Carlson’s off-spin - leaving Yorkshire 446-6 on the cusp of lunch.
After maximum batting points were pocketed with 15 balls to spare, Masood’s departure was followed by that of Jordan Thompson, lbw for a golden duck as he played back to Harris, before Ben Coad edged Carlson low to slip.
The innings concluded when Dom Bess called Ben Cliff through for a single off Carlson, the debutant hesitating and being run out by a direct hit from Zain ul-Hassan at mid-wicket.
Ul-Hassan’s joy was short-lived, though, the left-hander bowled playing inside a ball from Coad as Glamorgan slipped to 10-1. Thompson made it 19-2 when he bowled Colin Ingram, and after Glamorgan took tea at 53-2, they lost four wickets in a costly final session.
Bess bowled Northeast as he went back and tried to hit through the offside, then Revis took three wickets in an excellent burst from the Cathedral Road end. Ed Byrom tried to drive too far from his body and was caught in the gully; Billy Root was given out caught behind off a short ball that appeared to strike him on the arm, and Chris Cooke lbw playing back, leaving the hosts 100-6.
Carlson, who lofted Bess for a straight six towards the Taff, and Douthwaite averted further incursions in a plucky stand of 50, but there remains much work ahead for the hosts.
They need 351 just to avoid the follow-on, a target that may prove steeper than the climb up Caerphilly Mountain.