AN EXCITING 116-run stand between Richard Pyrah and Andrew Hodd spared Yorkshire some early-season blushes on day one of their three-day game against Leeds-Bradford MCCU.
After being put in to bat by the students, things looked precarious for the 2014 County Champions on 148-5 when the pair came together, but by the time Hodd was adjudged lbw to Alex Lilley in the 64th over, Yorkshire had laid the platform for an imposing first-innings total.
With six of Yorkshire’s first-team away on England duty, contributions from their reinforcement players will be extremely welcome.
Former England Under-19 captain Will Rhodes was selected to open the batting with Alex Lees, but the team management may yet change their stance after Rhodes struggled against the new ball and was strangled down the leg side for one.
Dan Hodgson, who spent most of last season in the second team, played some lovely shots in his 35 but frequently played and missed outside off-stump before he was bowled by Harry Rouse.
Andrew Gale won’t be captaining Yorkshire at Worcestershire on Sunday due to his suspension for an on-field spat with Ashwell Prince in 2014, but he is leading the side against the Leeds/Bradford team.
His stay at the crease in the first innings was a short one, however, as he was trapped lbw by Doug Pratt for just seven.
Although Jack Leaning only contributed eight runs to Yorkshire’s total, he did offer some stability for Alex Lees, who passed 2,000 first-class runs on his way to an encouraging 63.
Lees lost his wicket to an impatient stroke after being tied down by disciplined bowling. He will turn 22 in a week’s time, but if Yorkshire are going to retain their LV County Championship title, they will need Lees to show a maturity beyond his years as their senior top-order batsman in the early season.
Pyrah and Hodd kept the scoreboard ticking over by punishing the loose deliveries from the Leeds/Bradford bowlers, but once they were set they increased the pressure to great effect. Pyrah reached his 50 off just 63 balls, and Hodd reached the milestone even faster.
Both men drove comfortably, and Hodd hit the first three balls of an over from George Scott to the ropes. It was an expensive set from Scott, with 29 runs coming off the over, with four off no-balls. Pyrah was out 16 runs short of a hundred on the stroke of tea.
Bresnan played a dull, forgettable knock after tea, but Steven Patterson unfurled some glorious shots before being bowled on 41. His back-foot cover-drive off Rouse attracted the warmest applause of the day, and would have been the envy of many a top-order batsman.
The Leeds/Bradford openers negotiated a slow last hour of play to reach stumps on 46-0; Yorkshire will be hoping Ryan Sidebottom’s return (he is being rested for this game) will add some much-needed penetration to their attack.
Overall, the first day has left Jason Gillespie and Yorkshire with more questions than answers. Overseas signing Cheteshwar Pujara is not yet in the country, but is expected to be in the side for the game against Worcestershire at New Road; he will play in place of the suspended Andrew Gale.
Lees’ runs will be welcomed after he recorded two low scores against the MCC in Abu Dhabi, but the failure of Will Rhodes at the top, as well as the middle-order mini-collapse will give them something to think about.
The bowling was modest, testing their patience rather than their technique, and they are likely to face more stingy seamers at New Road on Sunday.