Despite a brilliant century from Jacques Rudolph Yorkshire had to settle for a draw in their LV=County Championship fixture with Essex. Set a huge total of 369 to win on the final day at Chelmsford, the Tykes came up 36 runs short after an enthralling run chase.
Rudolph was the hero, with an innings of 102, but credit should also go to a number of other Yorkshire batsmen who took the game into an entertaining last 10 overs before finally settling for a draw.
The fascinating end at the County Ground had much to do with when the Essex captain James Foster decided on declaring. He could easily have batted the Tykes out of the game, but just 46 minutes into the final morning he called his players in with a lead of 369.
It meant Yorkshire had 83 overs to try and reach the victory target and Rudolph and Adam Lyth got the White Rose off to a perfect start. Until Lyth was stumped off Tim Phillps in the penultimate over before lunch the two of them had put on 79 for the first-wicket, and the momentum was there for Yorkshire to try and win.
Anthony McGrath then quickly came and went for only 11, but captain Andrew Gale then joined Rudolph and the onslaught continued. Together they moved the score on to 199-2 and by the time Gale was gone for 41, trying to up the run rate by sweeping Tim Westley, suddenly they Tykes only needed 169 to win from 28 overs.
Sadly Rudolph perished soon after, when he was bowled by Phillips, but still Yorkshire found the runs through Jonathan Bairstow Gerard Brophy. The two of them added 92 for the fifth wicket and going into the last 10 overs only 66 runs were needed.
However, Essex, who are such a good one-day outfit, took two brilliant catches through Matt Walker and Grant Flower to remove both the Yorkshire batsmen and the contest was effectively over.
Tim Bresnan was stumped late on and at the close Adil Rashid, on 19, and Steven Patterson, on nought, were the men at the crease.
Yorkshire still lead the Championship table by eight points though, after picking up the same number of points from this contest.
DAY THREE REPORT
A partnership of 199 from England’s Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara has put Essex in control of their LV=County Championship fixture with Yorkshire. Together they have helped the home side to a 304 run lead at Chelmsford going into the final day with seven second-innings wickets.
It means a declaration will be set at some stage tomorrow and with Essex closing on 229-3 they can afford to add some quick runs to the total in the morning.
The day had began with Yorkshire, resuming on 227-5, hoping to get close to the hosts’ first-innings total of 399, but unfortunately that never looked likely when Gerard Brophy was clean bowled in the third over of the day for 33.
Soon after Tim Bresnan was also back in the pavilion for 11, caught and bowled by Tim Phillips, before Adil Rashid provided some much needed resistance to reduce Essex’s advantage.
He helped put on 50 for the eight wicket with Steven Patterson, who made 16, before being left high and dry on 52 not out when Tino Best (0) and Oliver Hannon-Dalby (1) both fell cheaply.
It meant Essex had a first-innings lead of 75, but that looked brittle early on when Bresnan struck with the first ball to remove Jaik Mickleburgh and then Steven Patterson clean bowled Tom Westley for only 11.
However, that brought Bopara and Cook together at the crease and from then on Essex did not look back.
After they were both dropped by Anthony McGrath at second slip Bopara did eventually fall for 102, in the last over, when he was clean bowled by Rashid.
Cook is still there on 90 though, with Matt Walker on 13 and it will be up to Essex to make a declaration decision at some stage on Friday morning.
Yorkshire certainly have even more reason to avoid defeat than normal on the final day though – after their main title challengers Nottinghamshire wrapped up victory over Warwickshire to pick up 23 Championship points.
An eleventh half-century of the LV=County Championship season from Adam Lyth has seen Yorkshire fight back on day 2 of their clash with Essex. His 75 helped the Tykes reach 227-5 at the close, only 172 runs behind the host’s first-innings score of 399.
It means the match is delicately poised at the mid-way point and once more it was Lyth who most impressed with the bat for Andrew Gale’s side. Along with Jacques Rudolph he helped put on 87 for the first wicket, before Rudolph was caught by Alastair Cook at first slip off Andy Carter for 32. That wicket sparked a mini-collapse, with Anthony McGrath quickly coming and going for only 11 to leave Yorkshire on 104-2.
However Lyth continued his assault on the Essex attack to add 42 for the third wicket with captain Gale, before he was clean bowled by Chris White just 25 short of what would have been a fourth Championship century of the season.
His wicket was one of three in the final session, with Jonathan Bairstow (19) and Gale (47) also out, to take the gloss off a good all-round performance which was started by the Tykes bowlers.
Adil Rashid was particularly impressive as Essex were reduced from their overnight score of 353-6 to 399 all out. The leg spinner picked up three of the wickets, to complete his third five-wicket haul of the season, by removing Grant Flower, Tim Phillips and Carter.
Tino Best also chipped in with the wicket of Maurice Chambers as the hosts’ were only allowed to add 46 runs to their overnight score.
Play resumes at 11am tomorrow – with Yorkshire looking to get as close as possible to Essex’s total.
DAY ONE REPORT
Yorkshire’s bowlers came up against stubborn Essex resistance on day one of their County Championship clash at Chelmsford. England star Ravi Bopara was the chief tormentor – firing a 193-ball innings of 142 to leave the home side on 353-6 at the close.
From the first ball it was obvious that the track was good, and after winning the toss Essex’s opening pair of Alastair Cook and Jaik Mickleburgh quickly began to build the home side’s big total.
Together they put on 97 for the first wicket, before Mickleburgh was bowled by the in-form Adil Rashid for 38.
His wicket gave the Tykes attack some much needed momentum though, with Cook and then Tom Westley both falling to Steve Patterson to leave the home side on 120-3 at lunch.
However Westley’s wicket brought Bopara to the crease and from then on it became a tough day for Yorkshire’s bowlers on a hot East Anglian afternoon.
By the time the next wicket fell, when Jonathan Bairstow caught Matt Walker off Rashid for 26, the score had moved on to 200-4, before an entertaining 61 from James Foster really put Essex in command.
Fortunately both Foster and Bopara were ousted late on, to Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Tino Best respectively, to give the Tykes plenty of hope going into day two.
Quick-wickets will be a priority, with Grant Flower, who is on five, and Tim Phillips, who is on 15, at the crease.
After the disappointment of the FP t20 campaign it’s back to a format Yorkshire have enjoyed success in 2010 as the 4-day title chase gets back into full swing with a visit to Chelmsford, Essex.
Yorkshire are currently sitting pretty at the top of the LV= County Championship Division One table and a positive result against Essex would bolster their title aspirations.
Tim Bresnan (pictured) returns to county action after being on England duty.
Andrew GALE (capt), Jacques RUDOLPH, Adam LYTH, Anthony McGRATH, Jonathan BAIRSTOW, Gerard BROPHY (wk), Adil RASHID, Tim BRESNAN, Ajmal SHAHZAD, Steve PATTERSON, Tino BEST, Azeem RAFIQ, Oliver HANNON-DALBY and Richard PYRAH.