Yorkshire overcome stumble to maintain title push

Jonny Bairstow arrives at Trent Bridge
Jonny Bairstow arrives at Trent Bridge
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KANE WILLIAMSON made a golden duck on his Yorkshire debut but the visitors maintained their push for the title with a solid performance on day one at Trent Bridge.

Williamson’s first innings for the White Rose county was over almost as soon as he took guard.

The 23-year-old New Zealander, signed for the last five games of the season, pushed at a wide-ish ball from pace bowler Luke Fletcher and was caught at third slip by Samit Patel.

Williamson’s dismissal left Yorkshire in a potentially vulnerable position at 137-4 after Andrew Gale had been caught behind off the previous delivery.

But as has so often happened this season, Yorkshire dug deep and found people to get the job done, recovering to 327-8 at stumps after they had been sent into bat on a green pitch.

Adam Lyth led the way with 95, a highly accomplished and disciplined effort, and Adil Rashid reprised his rich form of early summer with a well-organised 78.

Liam Plunkett contributed a useful 41, while there was a decent knock from Gale himself – although the Yorkshire captain might be inclined to view his 33 as a failure after taking a career-best 272 off the same opponents at Scarborough in June.

Fletcher was the pick of the bowlers, returning a career-best 5-66 before he limped off with cramp in the closing stages.

Strong and strapping, like a cross between a rugby player and a nightclub bouncer, Fletcher, 24, stuck at his task to prevent a frustrating day for Nottinghamshire becoming more exasperating.

If popular wisdom dictates that you should bowl out your opponents on the opening day if you send them into bat, the hosts will surely be disappointed with their efforts.

Yorkshire also have a pretty handy customer still at the crease, Jonny Bairstow having hot-footed it up from the Oval after being omitted for the fifth and final Test against Australia to take Andy Hodd’s place, Bairstow’s family bringing his kit down from Yorkshire to enable him to slot in at No 8.

On a mild and cloudy Nottingham morning, which gave way to a warm and sunny afternoon, Yorkshire began in a manner more befitting a one-day match.

Due to a combination of positive stroke-play and indifferent bowling, with the Nottinghamshire attack failing to maximise the helpful conditions, the visitors established a splendid platform despite the early loss of Alex Lees, caught behind off Harry Gurney in the fourth over.

Lyth and Phil Jaques – the latter playing his first Championship game since mid-July after a rib injury – were sensibly aggressive and ruthless on anything short or wide, ensuring Nottinghamshire captain Chris Read was unable to exert any sustained control.

Jaques fell with the total on 61 in the 13th over, clearly unimpressed with the lbw decision won by Fletcher to a full-length ball, but Gale picked up the baton in tandem with Lyth.

Both men drove with authority to lift Yorkshire to 124-2 at lunch from 31 overs, Lyth contributing 65 of them having reached his half-century from 84 balls.

The left-hander offered one chance in the morning, a tough one spilled by Patel low at third slip off Andre Adams when he had 33 to his credit.

Fletcher’s two-in-two burst to get rid of Gale and Williamson briefly put Yorkshire on the back foot, but Lyth and Rashid got them moving again with a resolute stand.

There was also an intriguing battle within the wider battle as Rashid faced up to his good friend Ajmal Shahzad, the former Yorkshire pace bowler.

Honours were just about even, Rashid flicking him for a couple of wristy boundaries and Shahzad a couple of times going past the outside edge.

A second hundred of the season beckoned for Lyth but, much to his obvious disappointment, he was undone on 95 when Fletcher angled one across him that he feathered to Read.

The fifth-wicket stand was worth 65 in 24 overs, Rashid contributing 41 of them at exactly the time his team needed him.

There was controversy in the penultimate over before tea when Fletcher was convinced he had Plunkett caught behind, the fielders expressing their annoyance with lots of head shaking and hands-on-head gestures.

Plunkett, however, clearly thought otherwise and he opened the final session with successive off-side boundaries off Fletcher, whose fifth wicket finally arrived with the total on 281 when Rashid was lbw playing back.

Rashid’s stand with Plunkett was worth 79 in 26 overs and the leg-spinner faced 157 balls and struck 11 fours.

Plunkett was seventh out with the score at 303 when he was strangled down the leg-side by Gurney, Ryan Sidebottom following for a duck against his former club when he went to the same bowler-fielder combination, giving Read his fifth catch.

Steve Patterson hit the last ball of the day for four through the covers off Gurney – a shot that seemed to sum up the balance of power.