The cafe was positively teeming with Yorkshire supporters, tucking into their bacon and eggs and full English offerings, as Championship cricket returned to Scarborough for the first time since August 2019.
“Fifty minute wait?” said a startled man clearly in a rush to get his seat at the ground. “I’ll have to leave it then, luv,” he said, turning on his heels and muttering something to his wife about “trying t’other place up t’road”.
“Fair enough,” said the young woman serving, running here, there and everywhere as the orders mounted up. They sure work hard in the local cafes when the cricket is in town.
It was certainly not a morning, or a day, to be late on parade, not even in the interests of a satisfied stomach. Two wickets fell in the first six overs, six in the morning session and 10 by 2pm as Somerset were routed for 134 in 42 overs, Yorkshire responding with 159-5, Harry Brook celebrating the award of his first-team cap with an unbeaten 79, a classy innings that comprised 86 balls and contained 12 boundaries.
Matthew Fisher, who made his debut at this ground in 2013, when he became the youngest to appear in a competitive county game at the age of 15 years and 212 days, took a career-best 5-41 as Somerset subsided after winning the toss, Jordan Thompson and George Hill chipping in with two wickets each and David Willey one.
A combination of a bouncy pitch, some movement through the air, good bowling, poor batting and top-class catching did the damage, Somerset sliding from 64-2 to 68-6 shortly before lunch and then from 86-6 to 108-9 shortly after it, with only a counter-attacking 22 from last man Marchant de Lange, including three fours and a six off Fisher, disturbing the dominance of ball over bat.
Although the North Bay Cafe was positively teeming (others Scarborough cafes are available), the crowd at North Marine Road was disappointingly threadbare, with only 2,317 present despite this much-loved venue having been starved of first-class cricket for so long.
Perhaps the uncertainty over when this divisional game would be played was a factor, with the match only officially confirmed on July 23, thereby giving much less prior warning than is usually the case, another drawback of a Conference system in which 12 of the 18 counties now have nothing to play for.
Not so Yorkshire and Somerset, whose presence in Division One gives them the chance to win the Championship and the Bob Willis Trophy. After Yorkshire were held to a draw by Hampshire in last week’s opening round, and Somerset thrashed by an innings by Notts, this is a must-win fixture for both teams, who must realistically win their last three games to prevail.
Somerset certainly batted like a side shot out for 101 and 180 at Taunton last week, Fisher setting the tone with the game’s 17th ball when some bounce and movement from the Trafalgar Square found the edge of Tom Abell’s bat on its way to wicketkeeper Harry Duke.
Tom Lammonby produced a couple of handsome straight boundaries, on-driving Fisher and off-driving Willey, only to edge an away-swinger from Willey to Brook at third slip, leaving Somerset 14-2. Azhar Ali and James Hildreth added 50 before a poor shot from Hildreth began a spell of 4-4, Hildreth edging a drive at Hill to second slip where Adam Lyth took a terrific catch at head height. Hill struck again in his next over when George Bartlett prodded forward and edged behind, then Azhar played on to Thompson, who followed up by having Tom Banton caught behind for a golden duck with a good one that moved away.
When Fisher switched ends after lunch, running in from the Peasholm Park side of the ground, the innings disintegrated as he ripped out the final four wickets.
Steven Davies, hanging out his bat with no foot movement, edged to Tom Kohler-Cadmore at first slip; Lyth took another blinding catch at second slip when Jack Leach flashed hard to his left; Josh Davey was pinned leg-before, and after de Lange had clubbed a few in defiance, Fisher found his stumps with a yorker. So comprehensive a performance was it by Yorkshire’s pace bowlers that Dom Bess, the former Somerset off-spinner, was not needed to turn over his arm.
Lyth was adjudged caught behind off the 11th ball of the reply, his seventh successive single-figure score in all cricket, and Kohler-Cadmore briefly forced off injured when Davey hit him on the arm.
Kohler-Cadmore reappeared once Hill had edged Davey to first slip only to fall himself later in the over, taken at second, and Yorkshire slipped to 89-4 when Gary Ballance was also caught at second off Davey. Bess was lured out of his ground by Leach and stumped, but Somerset’s day was rather summed up when Brook was missed on 74 by wicketkeeper Davies, moving to his right, off Abell, the simplest of chances.