COME ON, Yorkshire,” came a sudden chorus of encouragement from the stands as the team took to the field for the final session of the match on a grey and gloomy Sunday afternoon.
The Kent total stood at 312-6, a lead of 32, and there were a minimum of 35 overs left in the game.
The crowd, perhaps 1,000 strong, a little on the thin side, perhaps, given the weather and the competing attractions of the May Bank Holiday, had watched a seemingly match-winning position deteriorate into something less promising.
Now they were urging Steve Patterson and his men on for one final time in the hope that they would not have to settle for a draw for a second successive week after Northamptonshire escaped at Wantage Road.
Sadly for those fans, who watched in chilly conditions as April turned to May, it was to be another tale of what might have been for Yorkshire.
Whereas at Northants they were thwarted by a flat pitch and some resolute batting, here they were thwarted by both of those but also by their own shortcomings in the form of dropped catches and the one thing that no one can control - the weather.
Having finally dismissed Kent for 393, exactly 11-and-a-half overs into the last session, Patterson taking the final three wickets to finish with 5-54, bad light descended just as Yorkshire were about to begin a chase of 114 in 21 overs.
As much as anything in this game is certain, they surely would have got there, but were denied what would have been their first maximum points win since the final match of the 2018 season.
“It was very frustrating, especially with the way things panned out for us last week,” said Ottis Gibson, the Yorkshire head coach. “To get ourselves in a position like this again this week and not be able to get across the line is frustrating, but I’m proud of the approach of the guys, the way they worked hard.
“We were a man down with Haris (Rauf) not able to bowl in this innings (due to a niggle in his left side), but we fought all the way to the end. If we’d had Haris I think it would have been a different outcome, but at the end of the day we’re in a results business and we were frustrated not to get the result.
“Haris has had a scan and the early suggestions are that it’s not too bad, so maybe with a week’s rest and with some treatment from the medical team we’ll get him back for the next home game. He’ll be out of the Essex match (on Thursday), for sure.”
Ben Coad, the pace bowler who has yet to feature this season due to a groin injury, is edging closer to a return. “Coady played club cricket on Saturday and he will travel with us to Essex and we’ll see how close he is to playing,” added Gibson, who quipped that Joe Root, the former England Test captain who is available for that match, “will come into contention” for a place in the XI.
Root’s availability gives Yorkshire a selection headache, albeit a good one, and Gibson sounded delighted to welcome back a player, in Root, who always gives his all when he returns to the county ranks.
The prospect of an exciting finish here had seemed improbable at tea, when Kent’s seventh-wicket pair of Ollie Robinson and Grant Stewart had seemingly steered their side to the brink of safety by adding 94 in 22 overs.
If their run-rate of over four an over was brisk enough under the circumstances, with both batsmen alert to the positive option and the old adage that the best form of defence is attack, it was as if they had refuelled during that tea break on Red Bull and chocolate as they thrashed 72 from the next 46 balls before Stewart was run out for 90, Jordan Thompson landing a direct hit from mid-on.
It triggered the loss of the last four wickets for nine runs in 24 balls, Patterson having Matt Milnes leg-before propping forward and then both Nathan Gilchrist and Matt Quinn caught at mid-on by Matty Revis.
“Well bowled, Patto, lad,” spectators shouted as he led his side back off the field with a spring in their step, Robinson also receiving an appreciative ovation for a fine, unbeaten 85 and his part in a stand of 166 with Stewart, a Kent record for the seventh wicket against Yorkshire.
After rain overnight and early in the morning gave proceedings a dampish feel, albeit not preventing a prompt 11am start, Kent soon slipped from their overnight 118-2, 162 runs adrift, to 126-3 when Patterson had Jack Leaning caught behind as he tried to leave.
The departure of the Kent captain and former Yorkshire batsman for 31 might have been followed by that of Ben Compton, who started the day on 67, but Adam Lyth put down a low chance at second slip off Patterson when the batsman had 71.
Lyth eventually made amends, holding Compton in the same position off George Hill for 93, which left Kent 182-5. The visitors slipped to 218-6 soon after lunch when George Linde was leg-before to the same bowler.
Bad light prevented an exciting finish and left Yorkshire fourth in the table after three games, 16 points behind leaders Surrey with a match in hand.