When cricket makes it’s way to Headingley for the first time this season on Sunday, then maybe, just maybe, a hint of pride will be among the usual disgruntlements.
“They take our players away just for them to carry drinks” is not an unfamiliar chorus from the Kirkstall Lane End in recent seasons as Yorkshire’s successes have led to their players being snapped up by England. While Joe Root and Gary Ballance have come close to cementing their places in the international side, Adam Lyth, Adil Rashid, Jonny Bairstow and Liam Plunkett have been forced to sit on the sidelines in the West Indies, devoiding Yorkshire of their big names.
This situation has, however, given opportunities to Yorkshire’s ever-growing youth prospects. Alex Lees and Will Rhodes have already shown their prowess for the White Rose, and on the third day against Nottinghamshire, Jack Leaning stood up to the mark to give the visitors a first innings lead at Trent Bridge.
Entering the game at 215/3, there was still plenty to do for Leaning with Notts still 213 runs to the good and centurion Lees back in the pavilion after a superb 100 of his own.
After a sedate start to his, and Yorkshire’s, morning, Leaning watched on as skipper Andrew Gale was dismissed by Harry Gurney for just 13, before the 21-year-old unleashed his shackles with back-to-back fours from the same bowler.
Gale’s wicket was to be the hosts’ only success of the morning, with Leaning and Richard Pyrah putting on 111 for the fifth wicket, going some way to giving Yorkshire a first-innings lead in the process. Both players could end up giving way when the Tykes regain their full quota of talent, but the pair have at least given Jason Gillespie a welcome problem, with the ever dependable Pyrah batting two hours for his 37 – allowing Leaning into his full flow at Trent Bridge.
Nottinghamshire threatened to curtail the visitors’ chance of a lead, with Vernon Philander dismissing Pyrah and Andrew Hodd in consecutive overs, but not before Leaning had gotten to a fifth first-class fifty with a single off Samit Patel.
Whilst losing wickets is never a nice feeling for an incumbent batsman, seeing Tim Bresnan walk out at number eight was surely a nice feeling for Leaning, who was looking for his maiden first-class ton after falling agonisingly short on 99 against Sussex last June.
Bresnan took away any scoring pressure from the youngster, with the former England bowler reaffirming his all-rounder credentials with 26 from just 31 balls before Leaning made the single he needed to bring up his three-figure effort – getting his side out of trouble in the process.
Against a side boasting international quality bowlers, this was no mean feat for Leaning, who finally succumbed on 116 when advancing Patel, who also had Bresnan caught by Steven Mullaney for 34, as well as Matthew Fisher for nought to finish the Yorkshire innings on 441, a lead of 13 runs.
The game may be set for an inevitable draw, but Yorkshire have done at least enough to send a few jitters through the home camp with three wickets late in the day, with first-innings double centurion Alex Hales out to Bresnan for just two, whilst Mullaney and Brendan Taylor will also have to watch proceedings from the Trent Bridge dressing room tomorrow.
But this day ultimately belonged to Jack Leaning, as the Yorkshire factory continues to churn out county gems.