Not too bad a day

County Championship Division 1. Yorkshire v Somerset. 29th, 30th 31st August and 1st September 2018. Headingley. Second Day.

Yorkshire had come into this match with relegation a possibility. Yorkshire supporters’ thoughts therefore were almost as much on the Worcestershire v Lancashire relegation battle as on this match. Somerset supporters had half an eye on the Surrey v Nottinghamshire game in the hope that Nottinghamshire might halt the Surrey juggernaut. Somerset came into the second day of the game with what appeared to be a clear advantage although the prospect of either side taking 20 wickets was far from certain. The running commentary from the Yorkshire crowd continued unabated…

Overnight: Somerset 374 for 8.

The second day of the match was, from a Somerset point of view, rather like a sandwich made from a very tasty loaf of bread with a tasteless mush for a filling. From a Yorkshire point of view the bread was unpleasantly tart, apart from perhaps the last overs of the Somerset innings, and the filling had the taste of the finest restaurant. I experienced both sandwiches, consuming the Somerset one myself and listening to a multi-point commentary on the Yorkshire one from all around me.

It is like that watching a match at Headingley. The crowd is not short of opinions and those opinions are freely expressed and exchanged for anyone who has ears to hear. The, largely objective, opinions are not just for the crowd either. Advice is liberally dispensed to the umpires too. The comments of opposition supporters, as a match unfolds, sit on the opposite end of the emotional seesaw to where your own feelings sit. At Headingley the frequency of the comments keeps the seesaw constantly in motion.

I had been to see a film on the evening of the first day, “BlacKkKlansman” directed by Spike Lee for any cinema buffs watching. A bit loose in the plot in places despite being based on real events but a powerful comment on the times it portrays and on our own. Hence my first day post was late in the writing and I missed the end of Somerset’s innings. “399!” the incoming text as my bus approached Headingley probably tells as much of the story as needs to be told.

On the first day as I walked through the passageway to enter the East Stand Hildreth edged just past slip. On the second day the ball crashed into Brook’s stumps, Yorkshire were 5 for 1 and a groan went up. A walk to the front of the passage revealed Gregory had taken the wicket. I had not long gained my seat, in line with backward point, when Lyth glanced Davey for four. “Up Lythee!” said someone further up the stand.

When Gregory hit the pads of Williamson and he and the Somerset cordon let out a huge appeal the advice to the umpire was, “No. No. No. If thee ahn’t gi’ em for us thee can’t gi’ ’em for them.” There is a certain logic to that of course assuming it was a request for consistency in decisions; and it was a fact that Yorkshire had not been given a single lbw the previous day.

CC 2018 Yorks (A) FW notes Day 2
Running commentary 2. Yorkshire advice to the umpire. Author’s notes. The decision was ‘not out’. Of course it was Yorkshire who were ‘repeatedly denied’ on the first day.

Williamson did not look in the best of sorts as he struggled with the Somerset bowling and remained runless for what must have seemed an age to one Yorkshire supporter, “This is torture,” his comment.

It soon became apparent that Yorkshire eyes were as much on proceedings at Southport as Somerset ones were on those at the Oval. “Lancashire 161 all out,” someone announced. “That’s 60 behind,” the reply. For this year as Somerset look up Yorkshire look down. As Yorkshire hearts rose at the discomfiture of Lancashire my heart sank as Lyth edged Gregory to gully only for Leach to reach low and drop the catch. The Yorkshire comment was simply a relieved, “He’s dropped it.” However low my heart was Leach’s must have been lower and two Somerset fielders were instantly in to console him. This team does stick together. When Lyth square cut Gregory for four you could but wonder how expensive that drop might be.

The real worry though was Williamson in his last match for Yorkshire this season. Somerset must have known that too and an enthralling duel commenced between him and Craig Overton. In one over Williamson drove Overton for four and pulled him in front of square for another, both shots rocketing off the middle of the bat to loud applause from a large crowd although not as large as on the first day.

Overton’s response was instant as he finished the over by taking the edge of Williamson’s bat three times in succession, twice short of slip and once short of gully. In Overton’s next over Williamson edged waist high to Leach in the gully. This time Leach took the catch without alarm. “He’d looked none too comfortable there had he, our Kane,” the comment and in truth he hadn’t. It was a wicket Overton had worked for as he targeted Williamson with a mixture of testing full and short balls.

Yorkshire 52 for 2. Williamson 18. And, apparently, Worcestershire were 31 for 3 against Lancashire. Yorkshire supporters seemed unsure who, if there was to be a result, they wanted to win. Lancashire have played a game more played than Worcestershire but they were Lancashire and this was a Yorkshire crowd.

At Lunch Yorkshire, Ballance having driven his first ball through the onside for four were 56 for 2, 343 behind. Lyth had looked fairly well at ease after he was dropped although he had played and missed more than once.

Yorkshire started to make progress after Lunch as, as far as could be told from beyond the boundary at backward point, the ball began to behave. It had behaved better on the second morning than it had on the first day and it now seemed to behave better in the afternoon than it had in the morning. When Jamie Overton pitched up Ballance drove him for four, when, later in the over, he pitched short he pulled him for four. The pitch seemed reluctant to offer Overton assistance in any way.

After every clean hit boundary, and most were, someone in the crowd would shout, “Shot Garry,” or “Shot Lythee,” with increasing enthusiasm as the home supporters got behind their team. As the score passed 100 for 2 I began to wonder if this match was beginning to have draw written on it. The batting had that sort of feel about it. The bowling had been probing, perfectly in the case of Craig Overton’s undoing of Williamson. Gregory’s figures, at one point 11-6-16-1, reflected the grinding battle that was going on but in truth Yorkshire had looked in no more trouble than any other team battling against a large first innings score on a ‘good’ wicket.

Then followed a golden patch for Somerset, the slither of the day that really put the flavour in the bread. Lyth edged Davey, who had been quietly running in, passing the bat from time to time and just going back to his mark to run in again, low to Trescothick at slip. There was a flash of body movement, a moment’s hesitation among the cordon and then a huge cheer. Lyth gone for 45 and Yorkshire 111 for 3. Disappointment in the crowd but someone said, “That were a good catch though weren’t it?”

When Ballance drove Craig Overton low but in the air towards Leach at mid wicket Leach dived forward towards it and took a neat catch just off the ground. “399 looks along way of now,” the comment. When Leaning drove Davey through the on side for four the shout was, “Shot Jack. Lovely.” When Davey had him caught and bowled for 4 shortly afterwards the comment was, “Oh dear. Oh dear. It stopped on him.” And it did look as if it had and it made me recall a couple of leading edges earlier in the day. Yorkshire 119 for 5, 280 behind.

“Where is the follow-on”? someone with a broad Yorkshire accent asked. Everyone I heard speak as I sat in the East Stand, on both days, seemed to speak with a strong Yorkshire accent. It is very pronounced and seemed to be virtually universal. Much like my days in Leeds nearly half a century ago. Much more so than the Somerset accent is at Taunton these days. The Yorkshire voices were down now and my heart was up.

How such things can change in a cricket match. Hodd, recalled from the Second Eleven game at Taunton, has announced his retirement. It didn’t take him long to enjoy it. With Kohler-Cadmore he commenced a partnership which, if it did not turn the match for Yorkshire most certainly kept them in it.

They began to drive Yorkshire forward, literally, as the Somerset bowlers continued to attack. Cries of, “Shot,” and “Well played!” became ever more frequent as the spirits of the Yorkshire crowd lifted and mine became ever more anxious. My spirits were not helped by someone in the crowd randomly announcing, amidst the plethora of Lancashire v Worcestershire scores, that Nottinghamshire were 48 for 5 at the Oval.

As the Hodd Kohler-Cadmore partnership began to build Somerset turned to Leach. Kohler-Cadmore was beaten by the first ball, got a toe end trying to sweep another and then drove the last into the Football Stand building site for six. When Hodd drove Gregory into the on side and then square, “Can we talk you out of retirement?” was the call.

As Tea approached with Yorkshire on 194 for 5 someone pronounced, “Ah think we’ll save ’t follow-on.” “Let’s get to Tea wi’ these two and worry about ’t follow-on after,” the austere reply. When, after Tea the hundred partnership was passed the cry was, “Keep going lads, keep going.” The same shout again when Hodd glanced Jamie Overton for four to formally avoid the follow-on, formally because it had seemed inevitable for some time.

The crowd were as generous to Somerset good play as to their own. “Fielded! Well fielded lad!” to Jamie Overton when he completed the dive at the end of one of his spectacular boundary chases. Although the afterthought was, “But don’t do it again.”

The sun, oddly, suddenly, and as Somerset took the new ball, found its full heat late in the day. I took a walk to find some shade. One of the few places you can do that at Headingley is to stand behind the East Stand and watch through the entry gangways.

I heard the appeal that finally saw off Kohler-Cadmore from behind the stand of course as I was making my way to a gangway. An excellent low catch by Davies apparently off Davey. Why is it when I wait four hours for a wicket it always falls when I am behind the stand? 292 for 6. Kohler-Cadmore 81, the fourth batsman to be out in the 80s in this match.

With the last over about to commence I made my way back towards my seat. Too late to get there before the over started I stood in the passageway next to the stand. Up went the appeal. Up went the finger and Yorkshire were 292 for 7 with Fisher gone. Davey again. “He looks so innocuous too,” the comment from someone in the stand. Undemonstrative yes. Innocuous no.

So I had spent virtually all day in the stand and seen two of the wickets from the passageway and missed another altogether. Such is the life of a cricket supporter. A Somerset supporter had missed the final wicket entirely and asked me what happened. “Lbw,” I replied, “it’s been a hard day though.” “Looking at the scoreboard it doesn’t look too bad a day though does it?” his comment and probably as good a single sentence assessment of proceedings as you will find.

Close: Somerset 399 (Azhar Ali 89, JC Hildreth 81, SM Davies 80, JA Brooks 5-116, DJ Willey 3-74). Yorkshire 292 for 7. Yorkshire trail by 107 runs with 3 first innings wickets standing,

The original version of this report was first published on on 31st August 2018.