Alex Lees, pictured, followed in the footsteps of first-teamer double-centurion Jonathan Bairstow when he hammered 26 fours in his 204 for Yorkshire in their Second Eleven friendly match against A Kent-Northamptonshire XII at Beckenham.
If you are going to score your maiden century for the Seconds make it a big one! So Alex Lees did – in an innings lasting seven hours – and with a second-innings century from Gary Ballance to go with his first-innings 75 Yorkshire outgunned their hosts by 174 runs.
The Seconds’ annual pilgrimage to Beckenham saw runs aplenty after Yorkshire had won the toss and decided to bat. There were two partnerships of 131 in their first innings – Lees and Ballance added that sum for the second wicket, and Lees and Eddy Wilson, with a 50 in his second successive innings, did the same for the sixth.
It was Lees who dominated the innings before he fell rather tamely to a bouncer from Gavin Baker which took the edge as the batsman ducked but failed to lower his bat. The tail wagged sufficiently for the declaration an hour after lunch on Day 2 with exactly 500 on the board.
The joint team batted as confidently as the visitors without uprooting too many trees, and by the close they had 145 for the loss of three wickets, opener Ben Howgego reaching 50. By lunchtime on Day 3 Howgego had more than doubled that – and another 50 followed before he was caught, the eighth success for Yorkshire who strived hard on this batsmen’s paradise.
Nobly, the joint team’s captain declared 130 behind on first innings, no doubt realizing that Yorkshire would add to their lead and set a target on the last day – probably the only way Kent and Northamptonshire could win. Yorkshire did not disappoint – in 44 overs they lost three wickets as they added 243 to their lead. The declaration came 50 minutes into Day 4, leaving a target of 375 in a minimum of 80 overs remaining.
Wickets came at regular intervals, and apart from Rob Newton’s run-a-ball 50 no one was able to establish himself. Two wickets were taken by lunchtime, five in the afternoon and the rest before the umpires could signal the last hour. There were seven wickets in the match for paceman Oliver Hannon-Dalby and five for left-arm spinner David Wainwright, the best of the Yorkshire bowlers.
It was a happy bunch of players who travelled northwards through the rush-hour traffic of the inner London suburbs, but it’s back to business next week. The Seconds travel to Knowle and Dorridge for a Trophy match and to Coventry for a Championship fixture with Warwickshire. Will they be as happy a bunch this time next week?
A correspondent has asked about the origin of joint-county sides playing Second Eleven friendly cricket. It was in 2004 that Yorkshire first played a Kent and Middlesex XII at Beckenham, hosting the return match at York in 2005.
The idea was to fill in gaps in the fixture list and to give counties – particularly those in the South, where many players are summer-contracted only, rejoining their clubs when school or or university terms end – a fixture to give their “stay-at-club” players a game and a taste of four-day cricket.
The match just concluded against Kent and Northamptonshire was the fifth against them in what seems to have become an annual fixture. The results: won two, lost two, drawn one.
The drawn fixture in 2008 was memorable for Martin Saggers, of Kent, taking all nine Yorkshire wickets to fall in their first innings before the match was abandoned so that the Beckenham ground could be prepared for a Kent First Eleven cup-tie against Somerset when the Canterbury ground was flooded.
The final scorecard appears below, but why not update yourself on match days by going to: