Yorkshire CCC: ‘We’re happy to get a draw’ admits Ottis Gibson after Taunton stalemate

RAIN prevented any play on the final day of Yorkshire’s County Championship match against Somerset in Taunton, which was probably just as well for the visitors, who would have faced a challenging fight to save it had cricket been possible.

Defeat to their second-bottom opponents would have dragged Yorkshire towards a relegation battle with five games left, and although they are not in obvious peril at present, a good result against second-placed Hampshire in Scarborough from Monday would alleviate the prospect of that situation occurring, whereas defeat would bring it into sharper focus.

In truth, this was a match which Yorkshire, although never good enough to win it, should have been good enough to save it on a true batting surface.

They made a present of most of their first innings wickets, as opposed to the pitch or the bowling proving their downfall at Taunton.

Yorkshire head coach Ottis Gibson. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

And although a repeat display could not have been discounted, Somerset still had much work ahead of them and all 10 second innings wickets to take, with their own second innings total standing at 225-6, a lead of 373, heading into day four.

All in all, it was another eminently forgettable game in a season of eminently forgettable Championship cricket, a sixth draw in nine for Yorkshire, whose title ambitions are now over for another year and who have not won since their opening match, having lost their previous two four-day fixtures against Surrey and Hampshire.

Barring success in the development tournament otherwise known as the Royal London Cup, now a glorified second XI affair owing to the fixture clash with the derisory 100-ball competition that takes away the best players and yet more of the game’s soul, their season is over in terms of silverware for a seventh successive summer, with Surrey and Hampshire the standout sides in this year’s Championship, with six and seven victories from their 10 games respectively.

Overall, Yorkshire were fair to middling in Taunton, the batting of centurion Tom Kohler-Cadmore and the bowling of Dom Bess and Matthew Waite the notable exceptions, against mediocre opponents marooned in the relegation zone along with Gloucestershire.

“We haven’t played great, and we have to be honest about that,” said Ottis Gibson, the Yorkshire head coach, of the latest stalemate.

“In that sense we’re happy to get away with a draw.

“But, at the same time, the disappointment for me is that I didn’t get the chance to see how we would have approached today. In the last two games we posted big scores in the first innings, batted poorly in the second and lost.

“This week I wanted us to have a more positive mindset to see if we could approach the game differently.

“If we had to bat all day, I would have liked to see us have a real go at chasing those runs.”

Yorkshire have only three times in their 159-year history chased more than the 373-lead which Somerset already held going into day four, with power to add, so there was never any realistic chance of that happening.

An inexperienced line-up, barring Adam Lyth, Harry Brook (unavailable next week due to England T20 duty) and Kohler-Cadmore (soon to be leaving for Somerset) is a work-in-progress rather than a worker-of-miracles, although a strength for Yorkshire is that they bat deep, with Bess at No 8 and Jordan Thompson at No 9.

The return of Gary Ballance to the batting line-up, and Ben Coad to the bowling ranks, cannot come soon enough, with injuries/unavailability continuing to hamper progress on a number of fronts.

Steve Patterson, the captain, is hoping to return at Scarborough after missing the match in Taunton with a hamstring niggle, but Yorkshire cannot afford to be without such key players, especially as they come towards the season’s business end.

Only huge centuries from Adam Lyth and Jonny Tattersall – and a club record sixth-wicket stand of 305 – helped them to a first innings total of 521 against Surrey at Scarborough, and yet they still lost.

A bowling attack without Coad and Matty Fisher, especially, and the up-and-coming Dom Leach, is always likely to face an uphill struggle, while Yorkshire have dropped so many catches this year that the gradient has been even steeper.