Yorkshire endured a difficult second day as Gloucestershire claimed the advantage at the halfway stage of a defining final round LV= Insurance County Championship fixture at Headingley.
The county’s Division One status is still not secure after falling to 183 all out in the first innings, a deficit of seven runs, before the visitors advanced to a commanding 204-6 in 60 overs, a lead of 211.
Sixth-wicket pair Ollie Price and Jack Taylor shared 122 either side of tea, the latter attacking for 67 off 78 and the former finishing unbeaten on 54.
Yorkshire know a draw or win in this game will see them safe, no matter what happens elsewhere in the country.
But a defeat opens the door for second-bottom Warwickshire – 15 points adrift before a ball was bowled – to leapfrog them with a win over Hampshire at Edgbaston.
Jonny Tattersall and co came into this week knowing a maximum 10-point haul would ensure top-flight cricket in 2023. But only three of those have been secured so far.
That means if Yorkshire go on to lose here and Warwickshire win with 18 points, that will be enough for the Bears on most wins tie breaker. They declared on 272-4 and have two bonus points. Sixteen more for the win would get them the 18 required. But it has been a rainy two days in Birmingham so far. Hampshire closed on 4-0.
Yorkshire started the day which swung back and forth on 80-3 and lost the last seven wickets before lunch.
Gloucestershire’s Pakistani left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar put the skids under the first-innings reply, ensuring his side took a slender lead into the afternoon session.
Wily Gohar increased Yorkshire’s nerves, returning 5-40 from 14 overs.
He claimed all of his wickets this morning, starting with Tom Kohler-Cadmore caught at mid-wicket for 46 with a top-edged pull against his first ball, Yorkshire falling to 121-4 in the 35th over.
The hosts, through aggressive Kohler-Cadmore and Jonny Tattersall, had made a flying start to the day. Thirty two runs came in the first three-and-a-half overs of play, including 15 off one over from Tom Price.
But things went rapidly downhill quickly.
Gohar had Harry Duke lbw, captain Tattersall (33) and Jordan Thompson caught at first slip and Ben Coad caught at cover off a miscue.
?Sandwiched in between, Dom Bess was caught behind down leg off the seam of Ajeet Singh Dale.
At the fall of the ninth wicket – Coad, 166-9 in the 51st over – Steve Patterson walked to the crease and was greeted by a guard of honour from Gloucestershire’s players and a guard of honour from the Headingley crowd as he prepares to farewell the club at the end of the week.
Patterson carved a boundary to third to take Yorkshire’s deficit to single figures before being caught at second slip off Tom Price, caught by his brother Ollie, to wrap up the innings and signal lunch.
Thankfully, wickets continued to fall – five of them in the afternoon as Gloucestershire’s second innings reached tea at 110-5 from 34 overs.
Bess and Coad struck twice apiece, the former taking two of four wickets to fall for 18 from 56-1 to 74-5.
Coad had struck in the opening over to get Chris Dent caught behind before Ben Charlesworth and James Bracey shared a confident 55 to further pile the pressure on Yorkshire.
However, Bess was about to turn things back in Yorkshire’s favour.
Opener Charlesworth was trapped lbw for 25 before Bracey chipped a return catch to fall for 39.
Sandwiched in between Coad had Miles Hammond caught at gully off the shoulder of the bat and Matthew Fisher had Graeme van Buuren caught at second slip (74-5 in the 26th over).
But that pendulum was to swing again.
Ollie Price and Taylor batted through from late afternoon to near close in what looked to be easing batting conditions.
Price batted with great caution, while the more freewheeling Taylor hoisted a couple of sixes over long-on off Patterson and Bess in the evening.
He reached his fifty off 59 balls, followed by Price’s coming off 120.
Taylor then miscued a pull at Fisher to mid-on (196-6) moments before rain ended the day six overs early.