Fin Bean scored a sensational maiden first-team century to give Yorkshire the dream start to their LV= Insurance County Championship summer with a dominant but rain-affected opening day against Leicestershire at Headingley.
Supporters wanting to find a way to get over the disappointment of Shan Masood’s delayed arrival because of Pakistan commitments were given the perfect tonic by the rookie left-hander, who has filled Masood’s likely opening berth alongside stalwart Adam Lyth.
On the way to 118 off 149 balls, an innings ended late in the day, Bean drove beautifully and pounced on anything short either side of the wicket as Yorkshire, invited to bat, eased to a close of play 285-3 from 60 overs.
Dawid Malan expertly supported him with a fine 91 not out, the pair sharing a third-wicket partnership of 165 inside 33 overs.
Second-team record-breaker Bean, 20 also shared a half-century stand for the second wicket with James Wharton (24).
Malan caught the eye either side of a three hours, five minutes rain delay from 2.25pm.
Yorkshire’s dominant start to their first Division Two campaign in 11 years was helped by a Leicestershire side who were not on point with the ball.
The hosts scored at close to five runs per over.
There has been much talk about England’s keenness to see the counties adopt their ‘Bazball’ approach to Test Cricket.
And when Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum take a first glance at this scorecard, it should bring a smile to their face. In truth, the reality is that the hosts dominated without really breaking sweat.
A feature of Bean’s batting – he hit 19 fours in all – was the way he drove and punished anything short or too full on either side of wicket en-route to a 132-ball hundred, secured in the final hour of play.
Malan cut, drove, worked and steered with the style which has made him one of the world’s best white ball batters.
Leicestershire have selected leg-spinning all-rounder Rehan Ahmed in this fixture, the 18-year-old returning to county cricket after debuting in all formats for England’s senior side this winter. He took seven wickets on Test debut against Pakistan at Karachi in December.
But this was a day he would rather forget having been taken for 22 in his first of only four overs, bowled against Bean before lunch. His other three overs cost a further six runs.
These are two young cricketers who have been subject to a fair bit of hype inside the last year; Ahmed because of his rapid rise into international cricket, Bean because of his mesmerising 441 in second-team cricket last summer.
That quadruple hundred against Nottinghamshire at Lady Bay ensured he broke the record for the highest individual score ever posted in the Second XI Championship, beating a record previously held by Marcus Trescothick.
And it was Bean who won this short and sharp battle, hitting his opponent out of the Foxes attack until he was re-introduced six overs before close.
The York-born player hit four fours in the 20th over of the innings, bowled from the Howard Stand End.
Ahmed’s first two balls were full tosses which went for four over mid-wicket – the first an above head high no ball. The other two boundaries were hoisted straight and pulled through mid-wicket.
Ahmed was immediately taken out of the attack by captain Lewis Hill.
In the next over, the 21st, Yorkshire actually lost their second wicket, leaving them at 104-2 when Wharton was caught behind down leg off Michael Finan.
Earlier, Lyth had been trapped lbw for 21 by debutant Josh Hull, the towering left-arm quick bowling only his fourth ball – 35-1 in the 10th over.
Lyth is captaining Yorkshire in a fixture which will see debutant overseas West Indian Shai Hope take the wicketkeeping gloves.
Not only is Masood unavailable, but so too is Jonny Tattersall due to a finger injury sustained against Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities at the weekend.
In that Uni fixture, during Sunday’s second day, Bean raised his bat thanks to a second-innings century.
Thankfully, he has quickly managed to achieve the same feat in competitive action. When played resumed after the rain at 5.30pm, he advanced from 82 and uppercut left-armer Finan for four to get to his milestone, by which time the hosts were 239-2.
Fingers crossed, Malan follows suit tomorrow morning as Yorkshire build on such an encouraging start in seemingly good batting conditions.
Unfortunately, Bean’s innings was ended in the closing stages of the day when he edged Finan to first slip, where Colin Ackermann took a smart catch, leaving Yorkshire at 269-3 in the 54th over.
But it has been quite the week for Bean, starting last Friday when he was handed his second-team cap at the annual Opening Season Lunch by Jonny Bairstow. Let’s hope it is quite the season as well.