If that sounds prosaic, the embodiment of coach-speak, it is because much of professional sport is prosaic, an endless process of trying to repeat the right things often enough to get the right result.
For whether batting, bowling or in the field, the team that “hammers its processes” best invariably prevails. There was nothing spectacular about the second day in Canterbury.
It was a scrap, a dogfight, the type of tussle that only long-form cricket provides.
For Yorkshire, after they had taken their overnight first innings total of 358-8 to 379 before being dismissed after 25 minutes’ play, that meant hammering away with the ball often enough on a good line and length to bring about mistakes, not “concentrating on the outcome” but on that simple repetition.
When it comes to the monotonous mechanics of doing just that, the necessary patience, application and skill, there are few better than Steve Patterson, the Yorkshire captain, who has been hammering his processes for so long now that he probably carries an anvil in his kit bag.
Day after day, year after year, Patterson, 37, has proved himself one of county cricket’s most reliable seamers, a man of whom Gale’s predecessor as coach, Jason Gillespie, once said that “Patto does what Patto does” while comparing him to the reliability of a Toyota Prius (other reliable car models are available).
After helping his team to a challenging total, one to which he contributed the third-highest score of 38 from No 10 before getting a leading edge to cover off the day’s fifth ball, Patterson spearheaded an impressive bowling display as Yorkshire chipped and chiselled away in glorious sunshine, which took the sting off the bitterly cold temperature, if only just.
As Kent fashioned 265 in reply, Patterson took 3-43 from 18 overs, doing his damage from the Nackington Road end where the Yorkshire players are based for this match in the Les Ames Stand due to the Covid protocols, with Kent’s in their usual position at the opposite end of the ground at the pavilion side.
The wicket that Patterson most enjoyed was that of Jack Leaning, his former Yorkshire team-mate and a close friend, with whom he shared “a bit of banter” prior to the match.
“I don’t think he’s overly excited about facing me,” Patterson had said – and so it proved, Leaning lured forward into edging his third ball to wicketkeeper Jonny Tattersall to depart for a duck.
Although both men will laugh about it in years to come, perhaps in the company of a cold beer or several, a smile was noticeably absent from Leaning’s face as he exited the field while Patterson celebrated in respectful fashion.
“It’s always nice to get your mates out,” said Patterson. “I don’t think I could have kept a straight face if he’d stayed in for long. We’ve won day one, we’ve won day two, and it’s about trying to capitalise on this position.”
Patterson dismissed Leaning with the final delivery of his sixth over, the 20th of the innings, having removed Joe Denly with the third ball of it to send Kent into lunch on 59-3.
Patterson’s third wicket then reduced Kent to 86-5 when Jordan Cox was lbw for 38, the earlier damage having been done by David Willey and Duanne Olivier, who pinned Daniel Bell-Drummond and bowled Zak Crawley respectively.
Yorkshire were frustrated by a sixth-wicket stand of 70 in 21 overs between Ollie Robinson and Darren Stevens, the latter having ended the Yorkshire innings by bowling Olivier to return Kent’s best figures of 4-60.
With the bat, Stevens got off the mark by hoisting Patterson for six over mid-wicket towards the flats that overlook the ground and on which a handful of residents sat watching on their balconies, the game behind closed doors unless one happens to own a pad with a view of the pitch.
Patterson greeted Stevens’s stroke – not many strike Yorkshire’s Toyota Prius for six – with an air of stunned disbelief, hands wedged on hips in double-teapot mode. Later, Harry Brook greeted Stevens’s dismissal, lbw for the top score of 52 (only the Yorkshire batsman’s second first-class wicket), with the unfettered joy of someone who had won a year’s subscription to The Yorkshire Post.
Robinson contributed 44 before Jordan Thompson had him caught behind down the leg-side, Tattersall taking an excellent one-handed catch low to his left.
Tattersall pulled off another good take away to his right when Olivier had Grant Stewart (40) wafting at the second new ball, and Kent’s innings ended when Olivier had Miguel Cummins fending to first slip, with Harry Podmore unable to bat due to the side strain he suffered on day one.
There was time for two overs in Yorkshire’s second innings, the visitors closing on 6-0, 120 runs ahead.
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