It was a long day for coach Andrew Gale, but a successful one as Yorkshire went top of Group Three with a three-day win over Northamptonshire and all but qualified for the LV= Insurance County Championship’s top group later this summer.
The White Rose need a maximum of two points at present from their final game against Lancashire at Emerald Headingley on Sunday.
They would qualify with a game to spare should Sussex avoid defeat against Glamorgan at Hove tomorrow.
Gale watched Yorkshire defend a target of 206 comfortably as Northants were bowled out for 152 midway through the evening session.
England Test off-spinner Dom Bess finished with nine wickets in the match, including 7-43 in the first innings, and Harry Brook starred with a second-innings 113.
It was the standout innings of the match and was completed at the start of day three.
Yorkshire were 159-6 in the second innings, leading by 147, with Brook unbeaten on 76.
And, with seven positive cases in the England camp meaning a brand new ODI squad had to be picked today, it wasn’t certain that Brook would resume his innings today.
All players selected in the new squad were withdrawn from the ongoing Championship round in order to link up ahead of Thursday’s first ODI.
“When my phone rang at half six this morning from Mo Bobat (ECB performance director), and he told me the situation, I was pretty convinced he was going to tell me Harry Brook is leaving as well as Dawid Malan.
“He’s had a great few weeks in T20, but that big innings in red ball cricket has been missing even though he’d had five fifties. That match-winning innings was always there.
“There’s no doubt in my mind Harry will go on to play international cricket.
“He’s a very grounded lad and won’t get ahead of himself. He’s very hungry for runs.
“It would have been a good time to pick him because he’s so full of confidence, and I’m gutted for him in that sense because I don’t think he’s too far away.
“But if he keeps doing that and keeps his head down, that call-up will come whether it’s next week, in the winter or next year.”
This was Brook’s third first-class, and Championship, century.
His first was at Essex in 2018 when Yorkshire were bowled out for 50 in the first innings and won, and his second was against Somerset at Headingley in the 2019 victory.
“I think I batted better against Essex in 2018, but I certainly felt good out there and am glad we got over the line,” said the 22-year-old this evening.
“In the first innings, my dismissal was absolutely shocking (caught at mid-wicket advancing at Simon Kerrigan).
“I was walking off the pitch in awe of what I’d just done!
“I’m glad I got the opportunity to change that in the second innings and glad we got over the line. You could say it was a match-winning innings, so I was happy.”
On the potential England call-up today, he said: “You’re always hoping aren’t you, especially with how well I’ve done in the past couple of months. But coming to the ground today, I still had a game to win. My complete focus was trying to win for Yorkshire.”
While plenty chipped in – George Hill with 71 opening the batting for the first time in his career is just one who springs to mind – Yorkshire’s other ‘match winner’ was Bess, who claimed a career best in the first innings to help the visitors recover from being bowled out for 158.
“Dom’s been brilliant since he came to us, in all formats,” said Gale.
“He’s done well in T20 cricket, but when we’ve needed him on turning pitches he’s really come into his own.
“He got us back in the game there because we could have been dead and buried.
“Then, the way we went about things in the second innings, we batted them out of the game.”
The coach went on: “I felt if we got over 200, it was always going to be a tough chase.
“To take them early wickets was important to put them under pressure. Their tail wagged a little bit, and we got away from our game plan. But I thought we deserved the win in the end.”
And on Hill’s excellent performance in the first innings, Gale added: “George has been the best player in the second team this season, and we made the call to pick the best player even if it was out of position.
“I thought he played beautifully from ball one. His movements were positive, his forward defence solid, and you felt comfortable watching him.
“To get bowled out for 150, it’s the same old story and we’re fighting back. We should have probably got 250. I thought that was about right on that pitch.
“It wasn’t a great pitch, and we didn’t want to bat last on it.”