To thrash leaders Somerset by an innings and 73 runs was proof positive of Yorkshire’s power and capability. It was the best of Steve Patterson’s burgeoning side, one which retains an outside hope of winning the title.
For that to happen, Yorkshire would probably need to win at least three of their remaining four games and rely on further slips-ups from new leaders Essex, 38 points above them, and Somerset who are now 34 in front.
It looks – and is – an outside shot, but then it was no less of an outside shot, perhaps, when England required 15 runs from the last four balls in Sunday’s World Cup final against New Zealand, and we all know what happened next.
Suffice to say that progress for Yorkshire this year would represent at least a third-placed finish, their current position with four games left. For now, they can reflect proudly on what Patterson described as “probably the perfect game” and a “complete performance”, one which saw Yorkshire score 520 in their first innings before dismissing Somerset for 196 and 251 to claim victory just before lunch on day four.
“I’ve been saying that if we’re going to drive games of cricket and put ourselves in positions to win, we’re going to have to score more runs, we’re going to have to have our top-six or seven making big contributions, and for three of them to get hundreds in this game is pretty emphatic,” he said.
“I’m just really proud of them. We’ve been working hard all summer and this game, in a sense, was probably the perfect game against a very, very good Somerset side.
“To get 520 after being put in is testament to how hard the lads have worked. Then, with the ball, and the way Kesh (Keshav Maharaj) bowled in particular, was also outstanding.
“For him to bowl with that control and be that attacking was superb, and his 10 wickets in the match made the difference.
“It was the complete performance, I suppose.”
Patterson, who is now set to rest for the first five games of the T20, with Tom Kohler-Cadmore assuming the captaincy, took his 400th first-class wicket en route to second innings figures of 4-54.
Maharaj’s 3-75 gave him match figures of 10-127, with Yorkshire now talking to Cricket South Africa about possibly extending his deal for Championship cricket.
Yorkshire’s fourth Championship win of the season – and undoubtedly their best – had looked a formality when play began beneath overcast skies.
Somerset were 159-4, 165 behind, their hopes largely dependent on Tom Banton, the highly-rated 20-year-old right-hander who resumed on 58.
For a side whose position was grim in the extreme, one would never have guessed it from the way that Somerset’s players screamed and shrieked while playing football during the pre-play warm-ups.
All sides do this to some degree, but you seriously wondered whether you were listening to a particularly annoying group of schoolchildren or professional sportsmen.
If ever a side had nothing to shriek about it was Somerset, who lost their first wicket to the day’s 11th ball, Matt Fisher, who bowled without luck in the game, having Tim Groenewald driving to Will Fraine at point.
Then it was over to captain Patterson. With his third delivery after replacing Fisher at the Kirkstall Lane end, Patterson bowled Banton through the gate for 63 –his 400th wicket.
No 401 followed in his next over when Patterson bowled Dom Bess, who was effectively out twice as the ball hit his off stump before flying to Kohler-Cadmore at first slip. Patterson claimed another when Steven Davies drove to mid-off, where Duanne Olivier took an excellent low catch.
Olivier was not needed to bowl on day four, his performances continuing to excite on the one hand and infuriate on the other. Too often, he seems to be a man married to the idea of banging the ball in short at every opportunity, and although one would never condone adultery, as it were, it might just help if he had an affair with a fuller length from time to time – or at the very least a passionate fling.
Maharaj took his 10th wicket of the match when Jamie Overton was lbw, and Patterson rounded things off by trapping Overton’s brother Craig in the same manner.
Yorkshire may or may not win the Championship, but this was certainly a performance evocative of champions, the sort that Yorkshire produced in their glory years in the middle part of the decade, and which sends them into the final furlong of Championship action, which resumes in mid-August, with a spring in their step and plenty to play for.
On this form, you would not want to be playing them.