A FUNNY thing happened at Headingley on Friday.
After the first seven days of cricket there this season had been washed out, an umpire was finally able to utter the magic word: “Play!
At 11am precisely, following a minute’s applause for Dave Callaghan, the BBC Radio Leeds cricket commentator who died last month, umpire Michael Gough delivered that very cry and Yorkshire’s 2018 season got under way at the eighth time of asking.
Notts, who had already played one Championship game, a six-wicket win over Lancashire at Old Trafford, exercised the right of the visitors to bowl first in conditions as pleasant as April has to offer.
From the moment that they lined up in front of the pavilion to pay tribute to Mr Callaghan, the sun beat down on both sets of players and did not relent until a 2,341 crowd wended its way home after watching Yorkshire score 256, recovering from 155-7 before reducing Notts to 53-4 at stumps.
Jack Brooks, who helped swing the day Yorkshire’s way with an unbeaten 30 from the No 10 position, followed by figures of 3-11 from seven overs, paid tribute to a resolute performance by the team.
“We’re pretty happy,” he said. “I think we’re in a pretty good position and, if we can get a couple out early in the morning and expose the tail, hopefully we can get a lead. To get 250 was a bonus from the position we were in.
“They bowled well, to be fair to the Notts lads, and we crawled up to a score which we know we can defend.”
Reflecting on his batting cameo, Brooks quipped: “I’m under-rated at 10, I should be batting at nine really.
“I work hard on my batting and it’s nice when I can contribute to the team.”
Yorkshire left out all-rounder Matthew Waite from their squad for this match, with pace bowler Ben Coad fit again after a hip problem.
They lost their first wicket in the seventh over when Alex Lees, seeking to find the cover boundary, edged Jake Ball to third slip, where the New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor initially parried up a fast, high chance and then clutched the ball at the second attempt.
Having started somewhat indifferently, Notts found their radar and soon had Cheteshwar Pujara and Gary Ballance back in the pavilion.
Pujara was trapped on the back foot by Luke Fletcher for two, while Ballance did not trouble the scorers before cutting his ninth delivery from Ball to Samit Patel at point.
Just as Notts’s confidence grew, so did that of Adam Lyth, who began to unfurl his trademark off-drives.
Ball and Fletcher were both clinically dispatched across the verdant grass before Lyth took the grass out of the equation entirely, pulling Luke Wood for six over mid-wicket out to the West Stand.
Not that it was a one-man show.
Harry Brook, the England Under-19 captain of whom Yorkshire have high hopes, added 50 with Lyth in eight overs, the young man looking comfortable and timing the ball well.
The stroke with which he got off the mark, a beautiful back-foot cover drive on the up off Ball to the foot of the East Stand, was a boundary of the highest stamp, and it had the Headingley patrons purring with pleasure.
Later, Brook square-drove Gurney for four and then leant into another square-driven boundary off Wood, who had his revenge when yorking him for 22.
Lyth fell five short of a half-century when Gurney trapped him on the back foot as Notts did well to prevent the hosts from getting away.
Hodd and Jack Leaning added 44 in 19 overs before Leaning was sixth out at 137, edging to second slip a delivery from Fletcher that shaped away devilishly.
Hodd, battling and busy, raised a fighting half-century from 102 balls with seven fours, but when Tim Bresnan went lbw to Fletcher, Yorkshire were 155-7 and not certain of reaching 200 and a first batting point. Josh Shaw helped Hodd take the score to 191 before edging behind, and when Hodd pulled the first delivery after tea from Gurney to the mid-wicket rope, Yorkshire had that first point in the can.
Hodd was bowled by Gurney with the total on 212, but Coad and Brooks added 44 for the last wicket, raising a second batting point before Coad was last out spooning to cover. Brooks, inspired by his batting effort, bowled Steven Mullaney off an inside edge with the second ball of the Notts innings and then had Chris Nash caught behind in his second over.
When Coad trapped Jake Libby with the next delivery, the visitors were 6-3 and Yorkshire’s tails were up higher than the cranes constructing the new main stand.
Taylor and Patel lifted the total to 39 before Patel, playing across the line, was pinned by Brooks.
Taylor fought through to 34 at stumps, but Yorkshire have the edge as cricket, finally, returned to Headingley.