YORKSHIRE v SOMERSET, Headingley, 20th - 24th April 2005
A slow drive up to the North-West early on Wednesday morning, arriving at a very wet Headingley by 1pm. Wednesday afternoon was spent in The Headingley Taps (a sort of Wetherspoons) watching Sky Sports News which gave out the announcement that play had been abandoned for the day. Just time fr a few more pints then, and a bus ride into Leeds for an Indian, then all of a sudden it was time to return to my cheap and cheerful digs.
Thursday. Headingley's ground has improved over the years and has been smartened up considerably. New stands have been built closer to the playing area, doing away with the 'road' that used to circumvent the ground which on busy days saw hundreds of people just walking aimlessly along in front of those watching. This arrangement emphasizes more the slope down the ground from the Kirkstall Lane end towards the rugby stand end which has also had a lick of paint. They also have a new, secondary electronic scoreboard on a smaller scale to those of Lord's. I guess I'm saying that Headingley looks ready for International cricket (albeit one-dayers) whilst Old Trafford looks decidedly dodgy (apart from their pavilion).
Once again I braved the outdoors, taking up residence in the Western Terrace (or West Stand as it is now known), with visits by Baggie, Doncaster Dud, Mr & Mrs Blackie senior, and a Mr & Mrs (who I cannot for the life of me remember your names - sincere apologies; tell me again at the Essex game)!
As for the game itself, Marcus won the toss and elected to field. A patient, opening stand of 63 before Johnno, having replaced McLean (5 overs, 25 runs) at the Kirkstall Lane end, made a mess of Jaques' stumps. McGrath seemed to spend ages on 2 before Laraman, having replaced Caddick (8 overs, 23 runs) at the Rugby Stand end, found the edge and our Matt Wood substituting for Marcus (only a 2 over break), clung on to the steeply rising ball at first slip, 82 for 2 in the 27th. At 130 Yorks lost Lumb lbw to Caddick. It looked as though their Matt Wood was assured of another ton before Nixon returned and found the edge, Robbie bagging the catch, and Wood dismissed for 95. Craig White's visit to the crease was short-lived, edging to Marcus at first slip in the same Nixon over.
There was now mayhem in the Western Terrace - ok, I went for another beer. We were well in control now, 177 for 4, became 177 for 5 then 189 for 6 when Dawood became McLean's 3rd victim. One of those annoying little partnerships then ensued between Harvey and Dawson before Dawson holed out to a brilliant diving catch by Blackwell at square leg 227 for 7. Maybe they'd get 250, 275 perhaps? That brought in Bresnan at number 9 who then proceeded to play exceptionally well backing up Harvey who seemed intent on blaming us for his poor form last season. At one point we had Blackwell and Jayasuriya (wearing Blackie's old number 15) in tandem in an effort to speed up the over rate and get us to the new ball as soon as possible. During which Harvey on 95 looked to have holed out to deep long-off where Caddick had made good ground to get both hands to it but spilled the chance. He'd had his good fortune, now he was going for the jugular. Caddick took the new ball, and was then blasted out of the attack after just 3 overs, by some excruciating shots from a Somerset fan's point of view. McLean, Johnson and even Laraman (who had been very miserly up until then) all came in for severe punishment from the very long-haired Aussie. The day eventually finished on a disappointing (for Somerset fans) 400 odd for 7. With Wednesday lost to rain, would Yorkshire having claimed all their batting points, declare overnight and deny Somerset their last bowling point? If they did, surely Somerset would target the 250 follow-on figure as achievable.
Friday, and the game was interrupted by some plonker (not me) getting onto the pitch to complain the government were about to kill him. Some of the Yorkshire members offered to do the job for them, before one policeman eventually removed him from proceedings, although he had got right up to Robbie at the stumps - a bit worrying in today's times.
Yorkshire carried on batting reaching 500 odd for 9 declared, leaving a follow-on figure of 350 odd. Unfortunately Gillian Harvey, sorry, Ian Harvey, despite suffering a very bad hair day, had somehow managed to wrench this game from our grasp. Fortunate at times, he rode his luck and turned the game upside down, scoring an undefeated 209.
Marcus was back in Taunton effectively making us 0 for 1 before we'd replied (but congratulations to Banger, Mrs Banger, and baby Banger). John Francis and Jayasuriya opened. Sanath mistimed one from Hoggard and it looped up to Bresnan at mid on. I stopped making notes at this point, not because of disappointment, but I found writing and drinking a bit of a juggling act; one of them had to give and it wasn't going to be the drinking (further dismissals you can read off scorecards)! Despite 'getting in' and starting ok, all our batsmen managed to get out, Blackie top-scoring on 33, so we fell 'just short' of the follow-on, all out for 182.
Following-on, our second innings started worse than our first, Sanath on 7 managed to loop another, this time on the off side and close to the boundary but unfortunately down the fielders throat. Burns & Hildreth disappeared in very quick succession before Blackie looked to have got the measure of the accurate bowling of Kruis & Hoggard, as he had in the first innings. Unfortunately, looking good on 21, Craig White found his edge and 'keeper Dawood claimed the catch. At 37 for 4 (effectively 37 for 5) would it be all over on the Friday? Francis and Laraman had other ideas and carried the game into the last day. Would it be worth turning out? Would it last an hour? Could the weather save us?
Saturday sunshine and their new scoreboard showed 'Welcome to Sunny Headingley'. Both Franky & Laraman put up stout resistance until Laraman fell for a brilliant (in the context of this game) 53, trying to sweep, unluckily edging onto his shoulder and was caught at short leg. Robbie followed up the defiant resistance, and at lunch Somerset were 204 for 5 (effectively 6) with Francis on 97 & Robbie 22. There was a sniff of a draw in the air! Soon after lunch however, Robbie was adjudged to have edged one behind (bat nowhere near the trajectory of the ball) and fell for 24. With valuable further resistance from Johnno, then more from Caddick, Somerset clung on and went into tea 274 for 7 (effectively 8), Francis 124, Caddick 13. Hoggard bowled the second over after tea, and accounted for Caddick for 13 and Nixon next ball edging to the slips. Somerset lost by an innings and 40 odd runs. John Francis not out 125 carried his bat, a feat last achieved by Roebuck some time ago.
Sunday a very bright sunny afternoon. Not a bad crowd, and my voice seemed to be in fine fettle, so I concentrated more on my vocal support rather than keeping notes on the game. With wickets tumbling, we did very well to make our 209 for 9. I really thought we might just have been able to defend it, alas it wasn't to be, Jaques this time leading their assault. Somerset lost by 5 wickets in the 40th over.
I managed to get introduced to Sanath at the end of the game, whose instant response was that he'd heard me throughout most of the afternoon! Wasn't sure if this was a compliment or not. Blackie warned him there might be more to come during matches back at HQ (thanks Blackie).
Don't panic peeps! From what I've seen to date, we're not out of promotion just yet!