Yorkshire’s patience rewarded as win takes them back to summit

YORKSHIRE returned to the top of the County Championship with a performance that showed why many people think they will win the title – not least Australian batsman Chris Rogers.

Jack Brooks celebrates as the umpires decide that Nick Gubbins was cought behind by Adam Lyth.

After Yorkshire beat his Middlesex side by 220 runs, completing victory with 15.3 overs of the match remaining, the vanquished captain backed them to end their 13-year wait for a Championship crown.

“I tipped Yorkshire early on to win the title and I haven’t changed my mind,” said Rogers, who top-scored across the recent run of 10 successive Ashes Tests.

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“It’s down to them now and whether they can carry on this form all the way through.

“As a batsman, I can say that their bowling attack is as good as any in the competition, and they’ve got batsmen in good form.

“All in all, it’s a very good mix for them.”

Rogers is right – it is down to Yorkshire now.

They have an advantage, albeit a slight one after they went five points clear of Nottinghamshire with four games to play, but an advantage nonetheless.

Most importantly, they have a group of players – and a strength in depth – that should be good enough to take them home.

Their destiny is firmly in their own hands.

Rogers’s fellow countryman, the Yorkshire first-team coach Jason Gillespie, simply basked in a victory that came after a prolonged battle of patience in the Scarborough sunshine.

This win was hard-earned; Middlesex were 163-4 in the fourth over after tea and proving difficult to dismantle before they lost 6-38 having long become disinterested in a target of 422 after Yorkshire declared on their overnight 400-5.

But when Eoin Morgan was fifth out, caught behind off Adil Rashid after a painstaking 29 from 137 balls, Rashid mopped up the tail to finish with 4-27 from 17.3 overs – his best figures since his 5-78 against the same opponents at Lord’s last summer.

The other standout performers were Jack Brooks, whose 3-30 made him leading wicket-taker in Division One with 49 at 28.08, and Steve Patterson, who took two wickets in two balls in a magnificent seven-over spell straight after lunch, including the key wicket of Rogers.

“It’s nice to be on top of the table again, but we know there’s a long way to go,” said Gillespie.

“It was a good win, and I thought we played the more consistent cricket over the four days.

“Our bowling was fantastic straight after lunch – Patterson’s spell up the hill was brilliant; he kept it tight and picked up two important wickets, and Brooks bowled well too. Rashid was a particular highlight; the pace he bowled at and the subtle variations he showed were great to see.”

It is ironic that Rashid is running into form just as the Championship takes a three-week hiatus; Yorkshire do not return to four-day action until August 15, when they play Sussex at Scarborough, and this is the time of year when the drier pitches should suit the spinners.

Instead, the Royal London 50-over One-Day Cup takes over from Saturday – some of us can hardly contain our excitement about that – and yet people wonder why English cricket struggles to produce spinners. But Yorkshire still have a good one in Rashid, who hardly had a raging turner to work with here but kept a good line and length throughout and sent down little loose.

After removing Morgan, the leg-spinner had Ollie Rayner caught at second slip by Adam Lyth, Tom Helm caught at second slip by Kane Williamson – his 350th first-class wicket – and then sealed the victory when Tim Murtagh was caught at leg slip by Lyth running round from the cordon.

A word on Lyth; after scoring 117 out of 253 in Yorkshire’s first innings, he held seven slip catches, including an absolute cracker to remove Rogers one-handed, diving full-length to his left, after the batsman got a leading edge trying to turn to leg.

Rogers – dropped on four by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, diving one-handed to his right off Ryan Sidebottom – played particularly well on another hot and humid day in front of 2,600 spectators.

He lost his opening partner, Nick Gubbins, early on, caught by Lyth off Brooks, and added 52 with Dawid Malan before the latter was caught at first slip by Alex Lees at the second attempt, trying to cut Tim Bresnan.

Morgan and first-innings centurion John Simpson added 71 in 30 overs after Patterson sent back Rogers and then Paul Stirling lbw, at which point Middlesex had a good chance of saving the game.

But Rashid and Brooks finished the job, Brooks removing Simpson for the top score of 61 from 108 balls with the aid of a slip catch by Williamson.