Yorkshire’s bowlers were given a significant, but welcome, examination by Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities batting duo Taylor Cornall and Josh de Caires on day two of their friendly at Emerald Headingley.
A strong White Rose attack, headed by Ben Coad, Matthew Fisher and captain Steve Patterson, went wicketless from mid-morning to close of play in excellent batting conditions during a sunny Leeds day, with both batsmen unbeaten in the nineties.
Yorkshire started the day by advancing their first innings from 417-5 overnight to 485-5 declared, with Will Fraine retiring out on 61 before the start of play.
Jonny Tattersall (28 not out) and Matthew Waite (46 not out) remained unbroken until Patterson declared at 11.50am.
Fisher then struck with his first ball of the Leeds/Bradford reply – 1-1 after seven balls – but that was when things became much tougher in the face of left-handed Lancastrian opener Cornall and Middlesex rookie de Caires, the son of former England captain Mike Atherton.
In taking the students to close at 205-1 from 75 overs, Cornall finished 97 not out and de Caires unbeaten on 94, the pair sharing 204 unbroken.
Of course, Yorkshire could have been better. They struggled for potency despite six of their seven-man attack – Jack Shutt, Matthew Waite and David Willey included – going at less than three runs per over.
But this time of year is all about time at the crease for the batsmen and miles in the legs for the bowlers ahead of next Thursday’s LV= Insurance County Championship opener against Glamorgan at Headingley.
“It’s been a good day for us,” said coach Andrew Gale.
“When they were 1-1, I thought, ‘Hmmm, maybe we’ll bowl them out cheaply. But you have to give credit to the students.
“Josh de Caires is someone who I’ve worked with in the England Under 19s set-up. I know he’s a good player. The other lad, Cornall, also batted nicely.
“They respected every ball, played within themselves and left really well.
“It’s a good reminder to us that when the sun’s out and the pitch is flat, how are we going to take 20 wickets? That’s the question I will be asking the lads.
“I think we’ve done ok, but we can be better. We can be a bit more consistent with the ball.
“We didn’t use the new ball as well as we would have liked.
“We’ve bowled just above average, and it’s now about taking it up a notch and being good. When you’re bowling on a pitch like that, your margin for error is very small. But we’re getting closer to where we want to be.”
Each of Yorkshire’s seven batsmen used in their first innings spent significant time at the crease, with Tom Kohler-Cadmore’s opening morning 109 the feature.
Fisher then trapped left-handed Josh Haynes lbw with a superb in-swinging yorker, paving the way for a flurry of wickets. Instead, Cornall and de Caires impressively got to work.
Both men unfurled eye-catching straight drives at stages. That was left-handed Cornall’s strength, while de Caires, who takes his mother’s family name, was stronger square on both sides of the wicket.
Eighteen-year-old de Caires signed a three-year professional contract at Middlesex last August, and it was easy to see why in this expertly paced innings which demonstrated strength all around the ground and the determination once shown with the bat by his famous father.
The pair recorded their double century partnership in the day’s final over off Patterson. Cornall hit 15 fours in 214 balls and de Caires 14 in 232.