Ballance and Leaning Rescue Yorkshire

Ballance and Leaning Rescue Yorkshire

Stumps Day One – Yorkshire 177-4 (Ballance 50*, Leaning 50*; Clarke 1-27) from 58 overs

Warwickshire and Yorkshire suffered a frustrating first day of their Specsavers County Championship match at Edgbaston.

A cold, biting wind and cloudy skies with bursts of rain provided a far from welcome backdrop to this clash between the visiting County Champions and one of the leading pretenders to their crown. Yorkshiremen are doughty souls but the freezing gale blowing today might have been enough to keep Heathcliff off the moors.

By the end of a truncated day, Yorkshire had recovered from a tottering 85-4 to finish on 177-4, thanks to a hard-working partnership of 92 between Gary Ballance and Jack Leaning. Both completed their fifties before rain and bad light put an end to proceedings at 5:20.

Yorkshire will be the happier of the two sides having survived some good bowling on a pitch and under overhead conditions offering at least a little help to the Warwickshire seamers.

At the start of the day, having declined to insert Warwickshire as was their right, Yorkshire won the toss and, logically, batted.

Whether this law change will encourage more spin bowling or just produce a plethora of bland pitches remains to be seen. As Jason Gillespie said at close of play: “You just have to look at the scores. If the ECB were concerned about pitches, maybe they should have asked what the Pitch Liaison Officers were doing. But only time will tell if the change will work.”

Alex Lees and Adam Lyth made a steady start and saw Yorkshire through the first hour before both departed in quick succession for 19 apiece. First, Rikki Clarke bowled Lees through a tentative defensive shot then Adam Lyth, maybe deceived by Boyd Rankin’s pace, attempted an ugly pull to a fairly straight delivery. Ian Bell at mid off juggled the resultant skier but held on at the second or third attempt.

Andrew Gale was also soon sent on his way. He might claim that he was yorked by a swinging delivery from Keith Barker. Unkind observers will say that he missed a full toss.

Jonny Bairstow, not surprisingly, looked like a man in prime form, driving Rankin and Barker for boundaries. When rain arrived ten minutes before lunch, he had scored 17 at a run a ball. The more sedate Gary Ballance was on 13 and Yorkshire were 82-3.

When play resumed after an extended lunch break, Bairstow never quite recaptured his careless morning rapture. He soon played on to a good length ball from Chris Woakes that swung back into him to leave Yorkshire at a tricky 85-4.

Jack Leaning made a precarious start, playing and missing at the persevering Barker. The left-armer was the most expensive of the Warwickshire pace quartet but by no means the least threatening. Gradually, however, Leaning and Ballance dug in, though Leaning did sometimes bring to mind the legendary Fred Trueman’s remark that a fortunate batsman had more edges than a broken chamber pot.

Despite the occasional bursts of sunshine, the Edgbaston floodlights remained on so it was no surprise when the rains returned just after Ballance and Leaning had brought up their fifty partnership.

There was a delay of around 85 minutes, during which time the covers were on and off as often as a reality TV star’s relationships.

Eventually, we were back in action with 33 overs supposedly remaining. Jeetan Patel gave us our first taste of spin but there was no discernible turn for him. Ballance reached a hard-earned 50 off 119 balls and Leaning followed him off 89. Both had struck seven boundaries. No sooner had they reached their respective landmarks than rain and bad light struck for the final time with Yorkshire on 177-4.

Weather permitting, battle will be resumed tomorrow with plenty of time left for a result.


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