Matt Milnes has spoken of his delight at being able to perform with bat and ball on debut to help Yorkshire into a healthy position at the halfway stage of their LV= Insurance County Championship clash with Leicestershire at Headingley.

Milnes completed a fine 75 in the nightwatchman’s role from number five this morning, sharing 94 for the fourth wicket with centurion Dawid Malan as the hosts racked up 517 in the first innings.

The former Kent new ball seamer then struck three times either side of tea as Leicestershire were restricted to 201-5 in reply.

Not only is this his Yorkshire debut, but it is also Milnes’ competitive return from a stress fracture of the back he suffered in the latter stages of his career at Canterbury in September.

“All the warm-up games lead to this, and I’ve probably bowled the most overs I have in a long time,” he smiled at close. “But the adrenaline gets you through, and I felt good out there. Long may that continue.”

Milnes bowled 15 overs at a cost of 46 runs – the most overs sent down of anyone in the six-man home attack.

On his fitness, he reported good news: “There’s a bit of cramp and stiffness tonight, but it’s nothing back related,” he continued.

“It was a bit soft out there with all the rain we’ve had, so I feel a bit twingey in the calf, but there’s nothing to worry about.”

On the day’s play and the state of the game, he said: “We knew what we had to do today, bat for a session and a half and keep the same tempo we batted with yesterday. 

“It was quite nice to bat with Mala. He makes it look very easy. He’s got a lovely technique, and you can see why he’s done what he’s done at the next level.”

Milnes fell four runs short of a career best score which would have beaten the 78 he scored as a nightwatchman for Kent against Yorkshire at Canterbury in 2021.

Milnes pulls for four

Picture by Allan McKenzie/

“I wasn’t thinking about getting to that, I was thinking about a hundred because I work really hard on my batting,” he said. 

“That’s why I do the night-watchman’s role, to bat higher and get more opportunities like that to get a big score. So I was really frustrated when I got out having done all the hard work.”

Milnes added: “It all went to plan today, but the pitch has got a bit flatter and deader so we’ve had to work hard for our wickets.

“We spoke in the changing room at tea, we probably bowled a few loose balls early on and their guys at the top play their shots. After tea, we went with the mindset of trying to string dots and maidens together, and we got our rewards. 

“Those two wickets tonight (of Ackermann and Mulder) were crucial because their middle order is probably where their strength is. 

“We’re going to have to work hard tomorrow. But, as we showed tonight, we can put them under pressure with dots and make things happen.”

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