Northants v Yorkshire: White Rose grab late wickets to earn advantage

EVERY time there was a bowling change yesterday the matchday announcer read out the bowler’s name and who he was sponsored by.

“And here’s Matt Kelly, sponsored by Ethel’s Hot-Air Balloons.”

Or… “And here’s Luke Procter, sponsored by Albert’s Knock-off Motors.”

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Or… “And here’s Ben Sanderson, sponsored by Supple Savannah, the great Northampton contortionist.”

Harry Brook of Yorkshire. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

And so on.

Ok, so I made up the sponsors’ names, so bland were they in reality and so unintelligible the announcer, but you get the picture.

They say that cricket writers who inhabit glass houses should not throw stones (the Clean Slate Pavilion?). Ugh.

But this was a day when the mood on the forecourt of Albert’s Knock-off Motors would have fluctuated this way and that as the pendulum swung first to Northamptonshire, then to Yorkshire, then back to Northamptonshire before resting with Yorkshire again, the visitors totalling 296 after winning the toss before the hosts closed day one on 26-2.

It was an intriguing day’s play, Yorkshire finding themselves in early peril when they slipped to 22-3 on what is commonly called a ‘good cricket wicket’.

Adam Lyth fell to a brilliant diving catch at second slip by Will Young, the New Zealand overseas debutant, who flew to his right one-handed; George Hill fiddled at one he had no need to fiddle at and was caught behind; and Dimuth Karunaratne’s first innings in a Yorkshire shirt ended on 13 – unlucky for him – when he also nibbled at one and was taken behind the stumps.

It would have been worse but Gareth Berg, to whom all those wickets fell from the Lynn Wilson Centre End, had Dawid Malan put down at first slip by Ricardo Vasconcelos before he had scored.

It was a howling drop – why, Supple Savannah would have snaffled it in her sleep – but it went straight into the Northamptonshire captain’s breadbasket and out again; cue several minutes of animated head-shaking, turf-kicking and general moping around by the guilty party.

It had the feel of a key moment, and so it proved.

Malan knuckled down to add 131 for the fourth-wicket with Harry Brook, the pair continuing their good personal starts to the season in a fluent partnership.

Malan unfurled some high-class off-drives, reaching a 61-ball half-century with his seventh boundary, and Brook cover-drove and pulled with power – not least when muscling Simon Kerrigan, the left-arm spinner, for six over mid-wicket in a dreadful over that went for 17.

At lunch, the score was 110-3 and the good ship Yorkshire was officially steadied, Brook going to his half-century shortly afterwards from 58 balls with seven fours to go with the maximum.

Berg made it four wickets out of four when Malan eventually played around one and was lbw, having hit 64 from 99 balls with eight boundaries. Brook then found another useful ally in Harry Duke, with whom he shared 50 exactly.

But when Duke chopped on to Sanderson, the former Yorkshire pace bowler, the visitors slid from 203-4 and a position of control to 206-7 and a position of concern, Dom Bess bowled as he played back to a ball from off-spinner Rob Keogh that seemed to skid through, and Brook also chopping on to Sanderson as he eyed up the covers. Brook’s 84 was crafted from 112 balls with 12 boundaries.

Jordan Thompson and Matthew Revis – the latter drafted in after Matty Fisher pulled up with a sore back following the Gloucestershire game – dragged it back for Yorkshire, who bat deep.

Thompson, who could probably bat at least two places higher in another side, and who should perhaps be batting two places higher in this one, showed his intent from No 8 with a lovely whipped six off Keogh that made a loud thud as it landed somewhere below the dressing rooms.

There is something about the way that Thompson plays, whether with bat, ball or in the field, that makes him a compelling watch.

Revis, too, has the potential to bat above No 9, another sign of how well Yorkshire are resourced.

As the shadows lengthened, with one from a floodlight pylon practically spanning the width of this large playing area, the pair added 69 for the eighth-wicket, Thompson going to his fifty from 69 balls.

He fell to his next delivery, lbw driving at a full one from Kelly, who then bowled Steve Patterson – the third Yorkshire batsman to chop on.

Rauf butchered a leg-side six off Berg but was bowled aiming a repeat – not the cleverest shot, perhaps, four runs short of 300 and a third batting point.

Thompson struck twice with successive deliveries late in the piece, Vasconcelos falling leg-before and nightwatchman Kerrigan to a high catch by Brook at first slip.

Earlier, Vasconcelos had edged Patterson just short of Lyth at second slip, but not even Supple Savannah would have been supple enough to have got her mits around that one.