Yorkshire v Somerset - Brooks makes welcome return but Ballance stays the course

“TO open the bowling for Somerset, from the Kirkstall Lane end, Jack Brooks…”

Jack Brooks: Celebrates taking a wicket for Somerset on return to Yorkshire. (Picture: John Clifton/SWpix.com)
Jack Brooks: Celebrates taking a wicket for Somerset on return to Yorkshire. (Picture: John Clifton/SWpix.com)

No sooner had the words left the mouth of Howard Ferguson, the matchday announcer, than loud applause rang around Emerald Headingley.

Brooks, who took 316 first-class wickets for Yorkshire before leaving for Somerset at the end of last season, was making his first appearance against his old club.

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To judge by the clapping that greeted his name, his popularity in these parts remains undimmed.

Yorkshire's Gary Ballance celebrates after reaching his century against Somerset. (Picture: John Clifton/SWpix.com)

After Craig Overton bowled the first over of the match to the backdrop of the Emerald Stand, which was open to Yorkshire’s members for the first time, Brooks got to work on an overcast, muggy Saturday after Somerset chose to forgo a toss.

The 35-year-old calmly handed his cap to umpire Mike Burns – but not his trademark headband, now streaked with Somerset red – and ran in with familiar gusto with the equally familiar squad number 70 emblazoned on his back.

Brooks has always enjoyed bowling here; his record at Headingley going into the game was 148 first-class wickets at an average of 22.20. None arrived during an opening spell of 6-1-19-0, but he was tidy enough, with just a couple of fours by Adam Lyth against the boundary column – a dismissive pull and a delicious cover-drive.

When Brooks returned for his second spell, around 25 minutes before lunch, Lyth and opening partner Will Fraine had lifted the score to 79-0 from 27 overs on what had revealed itself to be a featherbed pitch.

But with the fifth delivery of his new spell, Brooks showed to the crowd his golden arm, serving up a juicy half-volley on middle and leg which Fraine clipped to Dom Bess in front of square.

It was a soft dismissal, Fraine falling five short of a half-century having moments earlier lofted a straight six into the Emerald Stand off Bess, the off-spinner who will rejoin Yorkshire after this game for a second loan spell which covers the first 10 matches of the T20 Blast.

In the penultimate over before lunch, Bess removed Lyth when he slapped him off the back foot to Tom Abell low down in the covers. It was another soft one, Lyth understandably furious with himself.

Somerset’s decision to bowl looked increasingly bizarre as the day progressed, Gary Ballance (111) and Tom Kohler-Cadmore (77 not out) sharing 199 for the third wicket.

Had Somerset made the mistake of looking up instead of down? It would not be the first time that a side had been duped by a covering of clouds.

Ballance’s fifth hundred of the season felt – and duly became – a formality, while Kohler-Cadmore battled in search of his first.

Ballance was dropped at first slip by James Hildreth off Jamie Overton on 110, and then caught by that bowler at second slip off Tim Groenewald minutes later.

Yorkshire closed on 282-3, having displayed the sort of batting application they have long been seeking.