James Wharton was pleased but left wanting more after scoring a maiden first-team fifty during the second half of day three against Leicestershire at Headingley.

Wharton, 22-years-old, scored an eye-catching 52 – one of three Yorkshire half-centurions – in the second innings of the season opening LV= Insurance County Championship Division Two fixture.He, along with Shai Hope and George Hill, were central to a close of play 220-4, a lead of 322 heading into day four.

The Huddersfield-born player’s classy knock saw him strong through the off-side off the front and back foot, though he wasn’t completely satisfied after sharing 96 for the fourth wicket with West Indian international debutant Hope.

After lofting England leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed for six over long-off, he miscued an attempted sweep and was caught and bowled by the same man. 

Wharton had come to the crease at 0-1 just before tea and saw Yorkshire slip to 29-3 just afterwards. 

“I’m happy to have got a fifty, but to have thrown it away just after was a bit frustrating,” he said.

“I felt as if I could have gone on. 

“I played a shot I didn’t need to play because we were scoring quite fluently as it was and Shai was batting beautifully.

“Shai is a very relaxed bloke, which helped me. But the way I tried to look at it was not, ‘Oh we’re 30-3’, it was more, ‘We’ve got a lead and we’re 130-3’. That helped me play normally and not to go into my shell.

“I’ve felt good in the last few weeks in pre-season, and it was good to go out and play in that same manner.”

Leicestershire enjoyed success on day three to ensure Yorkshire had to work hard for their position of strength, and there is more hard yakka required tomorrow. 

The pitch remains good for batting, but Wharton is confident the hosts have the bowling firepower to ensure they start 2023 on the perfect note.  

“We weren’t overly happy with how we bowled with the new ball at them in the first innings,” he said. “So if we can make the most of that first new ball early on, that will set the day up quite nicely for us.

“We let them get away at five an over at the start, so if we can contain the rate and take a couple of wickets early on like we know we can, we should have a great chance.“It’s still quite a nice wicket, but if you get it in the right areas there’s enough there to play with.”

This is only Wharton’s sixth first-team fixture, his fourth in the Championship. 

So this encouraging knock breeds confidence that the summer can be his real breakthrough campaign having first debuted in the Vitality Blast at the end of 2020. 

“I hope so,” he added. “It was annoying to miss the One-Day Cup through injury last year. That was really frustrating. But hopefully this year I can kick on. I just want to do a bit better than today.

“I feel like if we go back 12 months, my game has come on a lot. 

“There’ve been little tweaks with my trigger movement at the crease and a lot of work with my mindset. It’s easy to let your nerves take over in first-class cricket, so it was about finding a way to be relaxed at the crease. I feel like I’ve done that.

“I’ve always opened in age-group cricket, but I’m quite enjoying batting at three at the moment.”

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