Yorkshire v Leicestershire April 6-9th at Headingley Leeds

Neil Whitaker reports

Day 1

YORKSHIRE opener Finlay Bean hit his first Championship century as he and Dawid Malan put Leicestershire to the sword on the first day of the season.

It may not have been BazBall but it was fast enough. 20 year old Bean from Ripon brought up his century when he uppercut Michael Finan to the third man boundary.  He hit 17 fours in his century which came from 132 balls in 218 minutes.

He said: “It was nice to get it in the first game of the season and hopefully I can build on that for the rest of the season. It was a special moment.  The time that I spent out of the game has made me appreciate it more. At the moment I want to cement my place in the team.”

Bean was given a quick start to his knock from the first over of England’s new super kid Rehan Ahmed when he hit the young international for 20 runs. After 19 overs Leicestershire were keeping Yorkshire under control, Rehan Ahmed was brought into the attack and his first two balls were pulled to the mid wicket boundary by Bean. The first was shoulder high and given as no ball.   Bean drove the fourth ball straight to the boundary.  That over cost him 22 runs.  That over saw Bean bring up his fifty from 57 balls in 88 minutes with 10 fours and also brought up the Yorkshire hundred.

Bean drove Chris Wright to the extra cover boundary to take him into the nineties.  On 92 he lofted Colin Ackerman to the deep mid wicket boundary just evading the fielder.  Finan got his second wicket when Bean edged a short and Ackerman at slip moved to his right to take a good catch.  With Milan they added 165 in 33 overs.

After lunch Leicestershire, who last season  finished bottom of Division two, without a victory, 81 points behind Durham who finished sixth started to play like a side who looked beaten.

Malan top edged a pull off Josh Hull to the fine leg boundary as the Yorkshire total sped along. To rub insult to the Leicestershire wounds after the second ball of his eighth over Matt Salisbury left the field.  He  reached his fifty off 56 balls with seven fours when he opened the face of his bat to Wright  for a single.

Rain stopped play at 2.25 and resumed at 5.30 with 37 overs lost.  The only time that Malan looked in trouble was in one ove from Wright. He  forced Malan to nibble at one and the next ball went through him and Wright couldn’t believe that he hadn’t bowled him.

After a wet March and rain on the two previous day play at Headingley got away on start in brilliant sunshine, the rain was to come later.Yorkshire suffered a blow before play started when captain and wicket keeper Jonny Tattersall was ruled out with bruised finger, his place behind the stumps was taken by new signing West Indian Shai Hope and Adam Lyth captained the side.

Put into bat Yorkshire lost their first wicket in the 10th over when Lyth was plumb leg before to Hull on championship debut. Hull  got his first wicket with his fourth ball when the tall left hander trapped Lyth leg before on his back foot.   Lyth had rode his luck when he twice top edged a pull that flew over the slips to the third man boundary.

James Wharton who started nervously and slow looked to be getting into his strides when he was strangled down the leg side and stumper Peter  Handscomb took a comfortable catch.

Day 2

DAWID Malan hit his fourth century in his last six first class matches at Headingley as Yorkshire reached 500 in a Championship match at Headingley since  they made 571 against Kent last April.

Malan carried on in the same form and temperament as on the first day, looking  at ease at the crease and finding it easy to hit the boundaries. His ton came from 135 balls in 135 and included 15 fours. He gently caressed Colin  Ackerman over mid wicket into the West stand for a six.

A double century if not 150 looked on the cards especially when he hit Rehan Ahmed for a six, after his first over had gone for 15,  Malan looked for another six  when he pushed Rehan  Ahmed through mid off but found Wiaan  Mulder coming from long off.

Night watchman Matt Mines edged Chris Wright inches wide off Ackerman at slip and Peter Handscomb and the ball ran to the boundary.  In the next over he pulled Rehan Ahmed to the mid wicket boundary and drilled the next ball to the long off boundary.  His third boundary of the over was an inside edge which evaded Handscomb.

Milnes reached his fifty when he clipped Rehan Ahmed to the mid wicket boundary.  His fifty took him 80 minutes from 70 balls and he hit eight fours.  He became Michael Finan’s third victim  when he  played around a straight ball and was leg before for 75,  three short of equalling his best score for Kent.

Shai Hope went down the pitch to Ackerman to smash him over long on but edged it to Mulder at short third man who took a sprawling catch.

After he was warned for running on the pitch Rehan Ahmed bowled the next ball wider from the stumps and George  Hill went down the pitch to push at him but  missed the ball and was easily stumped by Handscomb.

Matt Revis got too far under a short ball from Wright and Sol Budinger took a fine running backwards catch at short mid wicket to end Revis enterprising 44 minute innings of 27.

Jordan Thompson raced to 20 thanks to three sixes but going for a fourth he toe ended Wright and Lewis Hill took a good sprawling catch at mid off.

Dom Bess pulled Wright over square leg for two sixes in three balls but the Leicestershire team were convinced they had strangled him off the second ball.  He scooped Wright for a six over Handscomb’s head into the Howard stand.  On 49, he tried to pull Rehan Ahmed but played over and was bowled. Rehan Ahmed finished with three for 89 and  Michael Finan with three for 109.

After a good confident start and looking a Championship batter Budinger tried to pull Milnes but top edged it and the ball flew to Revis at mid off.  Yorkshire got their second wicket when Leicestershire skipper Hill pushed at Ben Coad, edged it Adam  Lyth took a comfortable catch at second slip.

Opener Rishi Patel was the next to go when he pushed at Thompson, got an inside edge and the ball looped to Thompson who had to change direction in his follow through to take a one handed catch.

Losing three wickets inside 15 overs and 453 behind some cynics would have expected Leicestershire to capitulate but Ackerman and Handscomb a mini revival. The pair quietly added 50 in  16 overs.

Ackermann glanced Revis off his legs to the fine leg boundary to bring up his fifty.  His partner Handscomb had a life on 41 when he edged Thompson but Hill at first slip couldn’t hold on the chance.  The pair both reached their fifties from the same number of balls.  Their pair added 134 in 42 overs before Ackermann gave a simple return catch to Milnes.

Ackermann said: “The wicket was flat and slow but they bowled well after tea with tight lines and didn’t give us anything to score off.  They were disciplined, organised and set straight fields.  So we had to be patient.  Handscomb is very organised and relaxed when he’s batting.We think that it will take one good partnership to get us back in the game and we bat all the way down.”

Milnes got his third wicket of the day when he found the edge of Mulder’s bat and took an easy catch.

During play Yorkshire announced the signing of Pakistan Test batting star Saud Shakeel on a short-term overseas contract.  Shakeel, 27, will be available for selection for the second LV= Insurance County Championship game against Gloucestershire at Bristol next week and will be one of the Club’s overseas players, joining Shai Hope in the squad. 

Shakeel will be available for an initial four-game spell in Division Two, though there is scope for an extension to his stay at Headingley.  The talented left-handed Pakistan batter made his Test debut last winter against England and New Zealand, had a stunning start to his international career by scoring 50s in each of his first five appearances.

Darren Gough, Managing Director of Cricket for Yorkshire County Cricket Club, said: “Saud is a very talented young player, he will be a wonderful addition to our current squad. He did well against England and New Zealand. Here at Yorkshire we want to get the balance right between youth and experience and we now feel we have got a squad where we have plenty of opportunities for everyone.

We don’t want to be in a position like last year where we had to rely purely on youth, at times you need that balance in the line-up.”

Shakeel will help bolster the Yorkshire squad following an injury to overseas player Neil Wagner, from New Zealand, and the unavailability of new captain Shan Masood for the initial rounds of the Championship after being selected in Pakistan’s upcoming home series against New Zealand.

Gough added: “We see this as a great signing. Saud is coming over here looking to put his name in lights. He is coming here to develop his game and it’s great for us to have someone else of international experience coming into the Yorkshire dressing room.”

Day 3

A FOURTH wicket partnership of 96 in 21 overs between Josh Wharton and Shai Hope helped Yorkshire to a lead of 322 with six wickets left at the close of the third day.

When Yorkshire batted for the second time they lost three quick wickets before they had reached 30.  Leading by 102 Lyth pulled the second ball from Michael  Finan to Josh Hull at square leg. Yorkshire were in deeper trouble when Finlay Bean went for a big drive off the second ball after tea and edged Chris Wright  to Peter Handscomb.  In the next over Dawid Malan top edged a pull off Hull and substitute Ed Barnes took the catch at square leg.

But coming  to the ground on the third morning Yorkshire fans were confident that they would take the remaining five Leicestershire first innings wickets quickly and by the close  Yorkshire would be on the verge of an innings victory or would have completed one.  How wrong they were.

Last night Leicestershire’s Colin Ackermann said one good partnership would get Leicestershire back in the game.  They got two.  Handscombe and Rehan Ahmed added another 127 in 29 overs while  Wright with  Hull added 65 in 19 overs.  Their partnership saved  the follow on  when Wright went down the wicket to Dom Bess and clubbed him to the long off boundary, but it’s doubtful that Yorkshire would have imposed it.

Resuming on 201, Rehan Ahmed guided the first and last ball of the first over from Ben Coad to the third man boundary.  That was his cue to play aggressively in the first hour when he  and Handscomb added 53  in 14 overs.  Their only scare came when Handscomb  on 76 played Matt Milnes out to short third man and set off for a single but was sent back by Rehan Ahmed because the ball had gone straight to  Bean.  Handscomb turned back and gave up the ghost but luckily for the Australian Bean’s throw was wayward.

Handscomb drove George  Hill to the mid wicket boundary to bring up their hundred partnership.  He had another slice of luck when he  pushed  Bess out to mid off, set off for a quick single again luckily for Handscomb,  Wharton’s throw missed the stumps to bring up his century from 180 balls with 16 fours. 

He said: “The new ball was around the corner and I wanted to get it before it was taken and Rehan Ahmed was ready to go.”

After 305 minutes Yorkshire finally had him   just before lunch when he didn’t commit fully to a forward shot to Coad and was adjudged leg before.  His 112 came from 201 balls with 18 fours.  He became the seventh Leicestershire player to score a century on his Championship debut.  With Rehan Ahmed they added 141 in 34 overs but they were still  40 from saving the follow on.  Handscomb added: “His batting is mature and he plays each ball on its merit and it’s good to see him sticking to his guns. 

I was trying to find a county for the season and it’s a great opportunity from Leicestershire to offer me the opportunity to play in the first six games and push my claim for a place in the Ashes squad.”

Rehan Ahmed came out after lunch but he was soon back in the hutch when he edged the first ball from Jordan Thompson to Hill at first slip.  Two balls later  Thompson trapped Finan leg before. 

Wright was joined by debutant Hull and after a shaky start they defied the Yorkshire bowlers for 80 minutes.  The only chance they gave came when they needed six to save the follow on. Wright pushed Coad out to point and set off for a single, Hull was late setting off but Revis' throw missed the stumps with Hull well short.

Wright took a liking to   Bess, he drove him  over long off for a six into the Howard  stand and drilled the next ball to the extra cover boundary.  Yorkshire should have had him when he edged Coad to Bean at third slip who parried it to the third man boundary. Yorkshire finally broke the partnership when Hull turned Revis to Bess at leg slip.

Matt Salisbury batted with Sol Budinger as his runner but he only made one before he edged Revis to Hope, while he was out there he saw Wright, who was unbeaten on 85, smash two straight sixes off Bess.

Wharton brought up  his maiden Championship fifty which came from 77 balls in 101 minutes when he clipped Hull off his legs for a single. His fifty included seven fours and a six. Shortly after reaching his fifty he top edged a sweep of Rehan Ahmed who ran round to extra cover to take the catch.

Hope reached his fifty from 61 balls when he turned Ackermann off his legs to mid wicket for a single.

After his 75 with the  bat and three wickets with the ball Milnes said: “All the warm-up games led to this, and I’ve probably bowled the most overs I have in a long time but  the adrenaline gets you through, and I felt good out there. Long may that continue.”

On his fitness, he said: “There’s a bit of cramp and stiffness, but it’s nothing back related,” he continued. It  was a bit soft out there with all the rain we’ve had, so I feel a bit twingey in the calf, but there’s nothing to worry about.

We knew what we had to bat for a session.  It  was quite nice to bat with Malan. He makes it look very easy. He’s got a lovely technique, and you can see why he’s done what he’s done at the next level.  I wasn’t thinking about getting to that, I was thinking about a hundred because I work really hard on my batting,” he said. 

“That’s why I do the night-watchman’s role, to bat higher and get more opportunities like that to get a big score. So I was really frustrated when I got out having done all the hard work.”

Milnes added: “It all went to plan on the second day but the pitch has got a bit flatter and deader so we’ve had to work hard for our wickets.”

<strong>Day 4</strong>

LEICESTERSHIRE won their first Championship match at Headingley since 1910 by three wickets with seven balls to spare.

Guiding the Foxes  home were Aussie Peter Handscomb who hit an unbeaten 68 and Chris Wright not out on 40,  to go with his unbeaten 65 in the first innings.  The pair added 65  and it was Wright who hit the winning runs when he uppercut Matt Milnes to the boundary.

Laying the foundations for the victory was Leicestershire opener Rishie Patel who  hit his first first class century in his 21st match. He reached his maiden first class century when he swept Dom Bess over the mid wicket boundary for his second six of his innings.  Patel said: “It was a nice way to reach my century.”

His  century came off 185 balls in 222 minutes and as well hitting two sixes he hit 10 fours. He drove George Hill to the cover boundary, which just beat Matt Revis, to bring up Leicestershire’s 250 and the fifty partnership with Handscomb.

He said: “It was amazing, a great win for the boys.  We were confident because we batted well in the first innings.  Definitely one to remember, Handscomb and Wright batted well to get us over the line.  It’s a great way to start the season.” 

Patel smashed a short ball from Bess over cow corner for another six but  the next over  he gloved a short ball from Ben Coad to  Shai Hope.  He  shared in three big partnerships.  First with fellow opener Sol Budinger who hit 41, Colin Ackermann who made 72 and then with Handscomb.

Yorkshire should have got rid of Patel on nine  when he drove Coad to  Josh Wharton  but he dropped the low catch.  That was their only scare before lunch as Patel and Budinger reached 78 but in the second over after lunch Budinger tried to smash Bess through mid wicket but found Jordan Thompson who leapt to take the catch. Bess got his second wicket when he cramped Lewis Hill up for room as he tried to cut and top edged it to stumper Hope.

Ackermann stroked Coad for consecutive boundaries; the first through mid wicket and the second through the covers off his back foot.  He brought up his second fifty of the match which came in 59 minutes from 53 balls and included eight fours when he turned Bess off his legs to mid wicket for a single.  He became Bess’ third  victim of the innings with a ball that turned into him.  

Wiaan Mulder went  down the pitch  to Bess and smashed him over the long on boundary for a six, but when he tried it later he got an outside edge to it and the ball flew to Thompson at cover.

With 71 needed from 11 overs Rehan Ahmed went down the pitch to Bess had a big swing missed the ball  and was easily stumped by Hope.  Promoted up the order Michael Finan edged a drive off Matt Milnes and Finlay Bean coming in from third man took a low catch.

Needing three wickets to win Yorkshire took the new ball while Leicestershire need 44 off six overs.  With four overs left and needing 33 to win, Leicestershire needed a big over, Wright flat batted the first ball of the 84th over past Milnes to the boundary and they got  eight from the over.Handscomb pulled the first ball of the next over from Coad over square leg for a six.  Wright flat batted Coad to the mid wicket boundary and hit the next to the long on boundary.

Yorkshire head coach Ottis Gibson said: “It was a fantastic game of cricket and someone had to come out on the wrong end of a result like that.  We could have batted longer In the first innings but full credit to Leicestershire.  The first day was the most difficult to bat on after that the pitch was. We created enough chances to win but we dropped Patel.  We have got a very good bowling unit but we’ve got to find the right bowlers for the attack.”

In the morning Yorkshire batted on for another seven overs adding 66 losing four wickets.  They lost Hope to the second ball of the day when he sliced a drive off  Josh Hull to Patel on the deep cover boundary as Yorkshire showed their intent to get quick runs.

In his next over Hull got his second wicket of the morning when Thompson backed away to place him over the point boundary but found Rehan Ahmed on the boundary.

Hill smashed Wright over his for a six into the Howard stand.  He tried repeating the shot to the next ball but found Ackermann on the long on boundary who threw to back in as he fell over and caught it at the third attempt. Bess moved across his stumps to Finan scooped him and Handscomb waited underneath the ball for the catch.  Yorkshire declared, setting Leicestershire 389 to win.

Gibson added: “Sometimes you have to risk losing a match to win it.”

Yorkshire. CCC…..MATCH Scorecard ……Leicestershire CCC

April 7, 2023 12:07 pm

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