Yorkshire ran out of time on day four as Derbyshire battled through the day to secure a draw with a possible 14 overs remaining. Yorkshire secure 11 points and Derbyshire 6 points.
The draw sees Yorkshire narrow the gap on Derbyshire to 21 points at the top of the table, but with Hampshire in pole position to beat Northamptonshire at the Ageas Bowl the fight for promotion looks set to go down to the wire.
Yorkshire bowled beautifully with the new ball when Tim Bresnan and Ryan Sidebottom ran in for 15 overs second time around. Is there a better new ball pairing in county cricket?
Wayne Madsen edged Bresnan to Azeem Rafiq at third slip to a ball he should not have played at and Matt Lineker should have defended a Bresnan delivery he left alone and Derbyshire were 18-2.
Wes Durston and Usman Khawaja survived a number of appeals, plays and misses and scares to take the visitors to lunch at 48-2, still 104 runs adrift.
Durston went for 34 when he was lbw to Steve Patterson and Dan Redfern edged Sidebottom behind to see Derbyshire 111-4, but time seemed to be edging away. At tea Derbyshire were 125-4, but still trailing by 27 runs with a possible 35 overs remaining in the game.
Khawaja and Ross Whiteley deserve great credit for their application late in the game. Some crisp shots, particularly from the Australian left-hander, were mixed with dogged defence as another Khawaja cover driven two saw Derbyshire draw level at 152-4.
Khawaja clobbered Rashid over long-on to go to three figures in grand style with his first six to go with 15 fours in his 189 ball century. But Ross Whiteley tried to clear extra cover and Gale plucked down the catch and at 177-5 the lead was 25 runs with just over 18 overs left. By this time though Khawaja was enjoying himself. He lofted Rafiq into the Carnegie Pavilion for a second six as the lead stretched.
A bried discussion saw the Tykes admit that their battle for victory had slipped away and the players shook hands with Khawaja unbeaten on 110.
Derbyshire came tantalisingly close to avoiding the follow on after half an hours cricket which could shape the destiny of this match. Andrew Gale opted for six overs of spin at the start of day four with Derbyshire only 38 runs short of avoiding the follow on.
Tim Groenewald slapped Azeem Rafiq for six over long-on to notch Derbyshire’s second batting point and take them 16 runs shy of having to bat again.
Gale then took the new ball after 89 overs with 13 runs needed and David Wainwright made a decision he would regret. On 49 he tucked Sidebottom to fine leg to run the single to reach his half century, but then chanced a second on Steve Patterson’s throw. Patterson’s arm won the day leaving Wainwright face down in the dirt as his gritty 104 ball stay ended.
Mark Turner slammed Sidebottom down the ground and whipped him through midwicket to get within a hit of saving the follow on, but then Tim Bresnan found Groenewald’s edge which was taken by Andrew Hodd and Derbyshire were batting again with a deficit of 152 runs. Talk about cutting it fine, but with a minimum of 86 overs remaining in the day the quest for 10 more wickets and a maximum point win was on.
Ultimately Yorkshire ran out of time in this game. They will have to hope that they have enough in the tank against Gloucestershire, Glamorgan and Essex to ensure the season ends on a high.
JAMES BUTTLER at HEADINGLEY
DAY THREE MATCH REPORT
Derbyshire were 233-8 at the close and still trail by 187 runs. Yorkshire need two wickets to finish their visitor’s first innings off with only 38 runs needed for the follow on to be avoided.
Play got underway at 11.15am after early morning rain and Yorkshire needed early wickets on Friday morning and then came courtesy of excellent swing bowling from Ryan Sidebottom and superb keeping from Andrew Hodd.
Hodd is enjoying a tremendous debut and his catch to dismiss Usman Khawaja (3) is as good as you will see. Khawaja flicked at a ball down leg only to see Hodd dive full length and grab the chance inches off the ground. It was good enough a piece of fielding to force his teammates to stand still for three or four seconds before celebrating. They were processing the dismissal to ensure they believed it.
Sidebottom took 3-9 in 7 overs from the Rugby Stand End. Better balls saw the back of Matt Lineker (14) and Dan Redfern (3) who both edged diving catches to Hodd’s left and Derbyshire were 42-4.
Wes Durston and Ross Whiteley battled hard for the remainder of the morning session to forge an unbroken 56 partnership for the fifth wicket which saw the visitors to 98-4 at lunch, still 322 runs behind. Durston reached fifty from 66 balls which included 8 fours in the over before the break.
In contrast the afternoon session began comfortably as Durston inparticular advanced Derbyshire’s score further towards the 271 they required to avoid the follow on. With time ticking away in the game Yorkshire really needed all ten wickets before the opportunity to reinstate their visitors passed them by.
Azeem Rafiq made an important breakthrough when he beat Durston’s defensive push and bowled him for 84.
Only 47 overs were possible before rain with Derbyshire 163-5 when the covers reemerged in view. They trailed by 257 runs, but then the clouds cleared and Yorkshire took their chance.
Ross Whiteley was caught by Hodd off Steve Patterson before old boy David Wainwright and Tom Poynton added 51 for the seventh wicket. Poynton though fell lbw to an impressive Azeem Rafiq. Next ball Adil Rashid found Tony Palladino’s edge only to see the chance dropped by Adam Lyth at first slip, but gained revenge with a successful lbw shout next up.
It seems Wainwright, who ended on 45 not out, stands between Yorkshire and being able to enforce the follow on.
JAMES BUTTLER at HEADINGLEY
DAY TWO MATCH REPORT
Yorkshire grabbed a late wicket to make it a great day for the White Rose county at Headingley after collecting maximum batting points thanks to a century from Anthony McGrath.
Yorkshire had 11 overs at their visitors at the end of day two’s evening session. Matt Lineker and Wayne Madsen opened and despite a couple of balls which squirted in the direction of the close catchers there were few alarms, but Bresnan had Madsen lbw (14) with the final ball of the day. Derbyshire closed on 28-1, still 392 behind.
At the start of the day, news from Lord’s arrived that Jonny Bairstow had been selected to play in the third Test against South Africa, but Tim Bresnan was left out. Bresnan started the trip back to Headingley and ultimately replaced Moin Ashraf in the Yorkshire XI on arrival.
A back foot drive through cover from Lyth was utter class as he rose to his toes and glided Tony Palladino away to bring up the fifty partnership in 14 overs with Gary Ballance. Ballance too stroked some textbook boundaries, including a backfoot force through cover to greet old boy David Wainwright in the 45th over.
Ballance reached fifty from 76 balls with 8 fours as the pair sailed on past a century stand beneath rare sunshine. It almost seemed strange watching cricket beneath friendly skies.
Lyth moved serenely to 93 before a rare loose shot saw him drive at a wide half volley from Ross Whiteley only to scythe it to the catching Lineker at point. That ended a third wicket stand of 116 in 27.3 overs which had shown genuine positive intent.
Anthony McGrath joined Ballance to take the score to 244-3 at lunch, but with poor weather forecast and Derbyshire in no mood to gift Yorkshire points the onus was on the Tykes to maximise the match sessions remaining.
More circumspect after lunch as the bowling found a tighter line Ballance was caught behind off Groenewald for 79 and Rashid (12) was bowled by one that turned from Wes Durston. The ball would have got Rashid excited for later in the game even if it did cut his stay short.
Andrew Hodd, on debut, rocked back and punched Durston through cover for his first boundary in a Yorkshire shirt. It was McGrath that took the attack to the Derbyshire bowlers though as he crunched the new ball and passed fifty in 121 balls. He had struck Durston over long-on earlier for the first maximum of the game.
By tea the pair had progressed the score to 341-5 and an early push to a maximum batting bonus point declaration after the interval looked likely.
A pulled Hodd four brought up the hundred partnership off 107 balls as Yorkshire needed 24 from 4 overs to secure maximum batting points.
They did it with three balls to spare when McGrath straight drove Groenewald for four to bring up his century in 183 balls with his 10th four to go with a six. It was the 36-year-old’s second century of the summer and the fifth of his career against Derbyshire.
Hodd reached a debut fifty from 100 balls and he looked every inch a first-class player.
So at 406-5 after 110 overs Yorkshire had secured 5 points to Derbyshire’s 1. A flurry of wickets followed. McGrath went for 104, Hodd 58, Bresnan 1 and Rafiq 1 as Yorkshire gifted wickets without moving the match forward.
Sidebottom hit a four but then lofted Durston to point to end the Yorkshire innings on 420 and gift Durston his first five wicket haul as the last five wickets fell for 9 runs in 15 balls. It was a frantic and rather unrepresentative end to what had been a sparkling day.
JAMES BUTTLER at HEADINGLEY
DAY ONE MATCH REPORT
The rain won the day again on the first day of Yorkshires’s big match against table topping Derbyshire at Headingley. 65.5 overs were lost as the curse of the wet Championship weather returned.
An uncharacteristic misjudgment by Phil Jaques (3) saw him bowled when leaving alone a ball from Tim Groenewald and Yorkshire were 8-1 on a greenish surface.
From there Andrew Gale and Adam Lyth struck the ball beautifully. In a morning session littered with boundaries and positivity the Tykes struck the next blows.
Andrew Gale stared after top-edged pull as it sank into Mark Turner’s hands at fine-leg with the air of a man who’d just answered a million dollar question wrong when he really knew the answer. His 47 included 7 well struck fours and when he succumbed to a long hop from Ross Whiteley Yorkshire were 95-2.
The Derbyshire attack looked strangely meek for one sat at the top of the division and Lyth continued to prosper. An extra cover drive off Turned was as good a shot as I’ve seen all summer. It’s great to see the Whitby lad, boosted by his unbeaten 248 at Grace Road, playing with the controlled freedom we all know he’s capable of.
At lunch the Tykes were 123-2 with Lyth unbeaten on 56 and Gary Ballance on 11. One ball after the break, which was steered to third man for four by Lyth, the rain came and the players returned to the Pavilion never to return.
JAMES BUTTLER at HEADINGLEY
It’s the top of the table clash Yorkshire supporters have been looking forward to for some time this week. Derbyshire, currently 26 points clear of joint second placed Yorkshire, visit Headingley in the LV= County Championship from Wednesday knowing a win will push their toes within touching distance of promotion.
Yorkshire however have a chance to narrow the gap at the top. For once last week results went in the Tykes favour as Essex overturned rivals Kent and Hampshire had to settle for a draw away against Gloucestershire.
Yorkshire now have their destiny in their own hands. They know positive cricket from hereon will book them a top two spot and the Holy Grail of promotion back to the premier tier.
Derbyshire, full of confidence after five victories this term have put them in pole position, will not roll over. Yorkshire however are the only side in the second division with an unbeaten record and it’s now time to maximise success over the four-match run-in and secure promotion – the goal always heralded by everyone at the Club as the prime focus this summer.
Andrew GALE (capt), Adam LYTH, Phil Jaques, Gary BALLANCE, Anthony McGRATH, Adil RASHID, Andrew HODD (wk), Azeem RAFIQ, Richard PYRAH, Ryan SIDEBOTTOM, Steve PATTERSON and Moin ASHRAF.