On a less-than-perfect day for all Australian cricket fans, there was one shining star – Melbourne-born Glenn Maxwell. The power-hitter looking to hone his red ball cricket struck 140 from 144 at Scarborough for Yorkshire as they clawed their way back from a sticky position on day two.
If you found it hard to get your head around the events of the first day of the fourth Ashes Test, try looking at day one of Yorkshire’s Championship clash with Durham, where 20 wickets fell, only to then be told that on the following day, two Yorkshiremen would put on the highest sixth wicket partnership ever to be scored at North Marine Road.
Play resumed on day two with Yorkshire’s Andrew Hodd and Alex Lees on two and six respectively and the score 10-0. Wickets then tumbled until the scoreboard reflected a dreary 79-5 and Maxwell was joined at the crease by Adil Rashid.
The pair smashed through the records like Stuart Broad through an Aussie batting line-up and put on the fourth highest sixth wicket stand in Yorkshire’s history: 248. In 1911 Philip Mead and George Thompson put on a 201 run stand in a Players vs Gentlemen match. It was boundary after boundary for the home side duo who took ownership of the crease – and indeed the game – for the entirety of the afternoon session.
For the first day of this match, the pitch appeared to be favouring the bowlers while batsmen from both teams continued to play poor shots and found themselves subsequently heading back into the hutch. Maxwell and Rashid turned this around though and challenged Durham’s bowlers to push their limits.
Unfortunately for Durham, this did not happen. A near run-a-ball 140 from Maxwell alongside the figures for the two spinners operating on behalf of Durham proves this. Scott Borthwick (legspin) and Ryan Pringle (off-break) offered up five overs between them but were smashed for 52 runs without the loss of any wickets. It was to be Pringle who removed Maxwell in the first over after tea, but Borthwick continues his struggles with the ball this season closing the day on figures of 0-74 from 12 overs.
It took just three balls after tea for Pringle to get Maxwell to go for a strike but not quite get his bat on it and find himself caught by Graham Clark. The Australian has been in good nick for his English county of late, especially in the limited overs competition, and this weekend succeeded in striking his way to his first first-class century for the club. An impressive feat achieved thanks to some impressive shots which resulted in 140 runs from 144 deliveries including 17 fours and two sixes; the latter of which he used to bring up his century in true Maxi-style.
Towards the end of the day, the tables turned back and Durham worked hard to build pressure on the tail-enders. After Rashid fell in an almost identical dismissal to Maxwell for 127 from 164 balls with 21 fours, Durham only had to remove the Yorkshire bowling contingent. With Tim Bresnan and Liam Plunkett at the crease, bowlers Chris Rushworth and Jamie Harrison bowled three maidens on the bounce with the new ball and then one that went for just two runs – the second ball into the subsequent over, the pressure told, and Bresnan found himself removed for 28 from 50.
Graham Onions joined the Yorkshiremen in achievements today as he claimed Gale’s scalp for his 500th first-class wicket – even if he did have moments through the day where he held his head in his hands, dismayed that he was unable to dismiss the man at the crease.
Close of play displayed a more than healthy total for Yorkshire as they close on 420-9 leading Durham by 426 going into Day Three. Whether the hosts will declare at any stage or just play the waiting game is anybody’s guess; the scorecard for this match will go down in history as peculiar, to say the least, so why be predictable?