Yorkshire v Middlesex: Strauss is given food for thought

Andrew Hodd came in with Yorkshire 300-6 and helped them to a final score of 406 against Middlesex (Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com).Andrew Hodd came in with Yorkshire 300-6 and helped them to a final score of 406 against Middlesex (Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com).
Andrew Hodd came in with Yorkshire 300-6 and helped them to a final score of 406 against Middlesex (Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com).
'DUE to cricket there may be a delay on food orders,' warns the notice in the cafe on the corner of North Marine Road.

The establishment in question is full to bursting whenever Yorkshire are in town; so much so, one cannot help but feel sorry for the staff who work fingers to the bone to prepare any number of bacon butties and coffees to take out.

This week has been no exception, with spectators flocking to the seaside for the first of Yorkshire’s two annual County Championship matches here.

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As such, cricket traditionalists are not alone in hoping that the status quo remains from next summer, when each county loses one home Championship game and Yorkshire must decide whether to take theirs from Scarborough or Leeds; the food outlets of Scarborough, too, have a vested interest.

All that is for the future, and while takings pour in again this week, matters in the present find this match finely poised at the halfway stage.

At stumps on day two, Middlesex were 130-2 in reply to Yorkshire’s first innings 406, and the contest had yet to take tangible shape. Both teams have batted and bowled well at times; both teams have batted and bowled less well at others.

At this stage, it has the feel of a draw about it, although there is time aplenty for a positive result.

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After Yorkshire scored 291-5 on the opening day, they found themselves 334-8 after the first hour yesterday.

Will Rhodes fell to the 12th ball of the morning, dragging on an attempted pull off Toby Roland-Jones, while James Franklin struck twice in the space of five balls.

First, the Middlesex captain gratefully accepted a return catch from Gary Ballance, who increased his overnight 106 to 132, and then he had Azeem Rafiq caught behind for a duck in the Yorkshire spin bowler’s first Championship appearance for just over two years.

Ballance, of course, was the key wicket for Middlesex, the left-hander facing 262 balls and striking 19 fours in a display that will not have escaped the notice of England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss, who was among the 3,000 crowd.

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Strauss might have been encouraged, also, by the efforts of Steven Finn, who produced another wholehearted performance from the Trafalgar Square End and worried the batsmen with his pace, not all of which, however, was well directed.

Finn pinned Andrew Hodd with a vicious bouncer that thankfully did no damage, while Steve Patterson did well to take evasive action when another short ball whistled past his head and over that of wicketkeeper John Simpson on its way to the boundary.

Patterson decided that the best way to counter Finn was to club him to the point boundary, although he was less convincing when Finn finally cleaned him up to record his first wicket of the innings.

It ended a useful ninth-wicket stand of 37, and it heralded an entertaining passage of play as the last-wicket pair of Hodd and Jack Brooks sought to extract what runs they could.

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Hodd launched Tim Murtagh for six over long-on, and Brooks got off the mark with a hooked six into the pavilion off Finn, the sort of shot that a tail-ender could be forgiven for dining out on for days, months, or possibly even for the rest of his days.

A classical cover-driven four off Murtagh followed as Brooks proved – not for the first time – that he can hold a bat, and Hodd played a fine hand before steering a ball from Roland-Jones to Sam Robson at slip to end the innings, the last two Yorkshire wickets adding 72.

Whereas Adam Lyth fell to the first ball of the Yorkshire innings, Robson cover drove the opening delivery of the Middlesex reply to the boundary off Tim Bresnan.

It set the tone as Middlesex rattled along at four an over, a rate checked only when Rafiq was introduced for a short-lived spell.

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As the clouds rolled in, so did the complexion of the innings after Middlesex made comfortable progress to 87-0.

Robson and fellow opener Nick Gubbins fell in the space of 17 balls, Robson miscuing a pull off Brooks to Rhodes at mid-wicket and Gubbins trapped lbw by Rhodes.

After Middlesex advanced to 114-2 early in the final session, the weather took a turn for the worse and claimed eight overs.

Play resumed at 5.35pm with 17.1 overs remaining, although only 21 balls were possible before bad light again drove the players from the field.

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A total of 21.4 overs were lost in total, with Yorkshire denied the chance to push for late wickets in difficult batting conditions.

Stevie Eskinazi and George Bailey will both resume on 19 today, and the local cafes will no doubt brace themselves for another day of all hands to the pump.