Yorkshire struggle in field as rain eases at Bristol

Yorkshire celebrate Phil Jaques catch.  Photo: Northcliffe Media Ltd
Yorkshire celebrate Phil Jaques catch. Photo: Northcliffe Media Ltd
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A CRICKET match broke out in Bristol yesterday, ruining a run of rainy inactivity.

The phenomenon occurred as play finally began on day two of Yorkshire’s match against Gloucestershire.

At noon precisely, beneath greying skies and in gale-force winds, spectators were treated to the rare sight of cricketers actually taking to a cricket field.

It followed one of the soggiest starts to a season in recent memory, which saw not only the opening day of this match washed out but also Gloucestershire’s first Championship fixture here against Glamorgan last month – 15-and-a-half successive sessions at Bristol in total.

That play was finally able to start, albeit on a day on which 44.4 overs were lost to further showers, was music to the ears of the Gloucestershire side, who scored 165-2 after losing the toss.

In spite of overcast conditions which favoured the bowlers, and in spite of a powerful-looking Yorkshire attack, the visitors found it difficult to capitalise and were guilty of bowling too many four-balls.

Kane Williamson, a 21-year-old New Zealander, closed in on his second hundred in successive games with an unbeaten 89 from 141 balls.

Chris Dent, a 21-year-old local left-hander, posted 62 from 134 deliveries, the pair adding 146 for the second wicket in 43 overs before Steve Patterson trapped Dent lbw.

It had looked a fortuitous toss for Yorkshire to win when Tim Bresnan pounced in the day’s fourth over, inducing Benny Howell to edge to Phil Jaques at third slip.

Such was the accuracy of Bresnan and side-kick Ryan Sidebottom, who made for a formidable new-ball attack, the first boundary did not arrive until the opening ball of the ninth over, Dent stylishly square-driving Sidebottom, who battled on gamely despite a virus.

With Yorkshire on top at that point and runs at a premium, the visitors were left rueing a dropped catch at first slip by Gary Ballance off Bresnan, which reprieved Williamson when he had scored only two.

It was a difficult opportunity at Ballance’s heels, and in the sort of weather that no fielder likes, while Dent was fortunate to escape on nine when Bresnan drew an edge that flew for four runs through a slip cordon that totally failed to react.

Gradually, however, the complexion shifted as Yorkshire increasingly lost their way.

Williamson four times crashed back-foot off-side fours off Patterson, while Bresnan was also punished by the Kiwi through the same productive and clearly preferred area, which Andrew Gale was eventually forced to protect with a boundary fielder.

Williamson took the fielders out of the equation entirely when hammering Anthony McGrath for a leg-side six, the ball landing on top of a white marquee that cut a forlorn sight beneath gloomy skies.

Mostly, however, he prospered through the offside as Yorkshire, in general, bowled a touch too short.

Spectators, of course, were just grateful for some play, although they should have seen five more overs than they actually witnessed.

When a shower drove the teams from the field at 1.00pm, half an hour in advance of a rescheduled lunch interval, the players were unable to take an early lunch for the simple reason that the food was not ready.

If one side has the other nine wickets down in their second innings at the end of the match, a trifling matter – no pun intended – might suddenly assume greater significance.

As it was, the food was possibly the high point of a day when soup, most definitely, was the order of the day.

The highlight for William Rhodes, however, the Yorkshire 12th man, was simply to get on the field in a first-team match.

Rhodes, an all-rounder who plays for the Yorkshire Academy, briefly replaced Bresnan in the final session – the first time, by my reckoning, that a W Rhodes has taken the field for Yorkshire since 1930. Rhodes had been added to the squad when it became clear new overseas signing Mitchell Starc would not be able to play in the game.

It was not an experience he will forget in a hurry, although this was not a day that most of us will fondly recall.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Starc will miss at least three Championship and three CB40 games after being called-up for Australia A’s tour of England, which runs from July 27 to August 17. The 22-year-old will miss the Championship fixtures at Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, as well as the home Championship game against Derbyshire.

The left-armer will also be absent for CB40 matches at Warwickshire and Northamptonshire and at home to the Unicorns.

Starc is now back in Australia trying to sort out his visa after he was deported from England on Tuesday due to paperwork problems. Yorkshire hope to have him back in time for the Championship match against Hampshire at Headingley Carnegie, starting on Wednesday.

Yorkshire’s Joe Root fell for three as England Lions finished on 40-1 in reply to the West Indies’ 147 all out at Northampton. Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow took three catches.