After a few days away in Northumberland last week, thanks to Brian for keeping the blog ticking over, on Sunday morning my neighbour John Gawthrope and I decided to trust a weather forecast that said rain would move eastwards and clear Scarborough by late morning. Our confidence was not misplaced but before it left us the rain made us think we might not see play until well into the afternoon for, shortly before we got to Scarborough, there was a torrential storm that saw water running down the roads. Expecting that this would have left North Marine Road under water we were delighted on our arrival at the ground to find it dry enough for the players to be doing their warm ups.
Much speculation centred on the composition of the Yorkshire XI, would Rashid be fit, would Yorkshire play five seamers, would Maxwell be left out,yes, yes, yes were the replies. Most people reading this will by now be familiar with the day's events but in brief, Yorkshire lost three early wickets and were rescued by another brilliant innings by Bairstow for whom Gale proved the perfect foil by allowing his inform partner to get on with it. On the whole the Worcestershire side stuck to their task well, although Ajmal's saunter after the ball had passed him at mid off was slow enough to allow Gale to complete an all run four.Draw your own conclusions. Last year I had seen the spinner run through Essex at New Road with an action that there is still muttering about in Chelmsford. After corrective treatment he looks a different bowler with a smooth delivery but 1 for 61 off 21 overs suggests he is less of a menace.
Bairstow turns one to leg.*We found ourselves among a group of Worcestershire supporters, a Conference of Pears perhaps, but none could throw light on the identity of the visitors' young twelfth man who was kept very busy both with the drinks and as a sub. Detective work by Malcolm Sheasby, who had his Second XI Annual in his bag, suggested that the most obvious suspect was Ryan Derrick, a photograph on twitter offers supporting evidence. The Yorkshire announcer offered no guidance.
John and I repeated the journey yesterday, this time in warm sunshine and accompanied by Weteherby League umpire John Fisher. We were joined in front of McCain's Chips by Graham Sykes with whom I had an interesting conversation about his trip to Scotland last week to take in some of the icc T20 qualifying matches. Yorkshire rather made heavy work of getting the fifth batting point but the fall of the ninth wicket when still nine short seemed to enliven proceedings and the last wicket stand of 39 between Gale and Sidebottom meant that the target was reached without further alarms.
The Lower Ure Valley trio decided to cut our losses when bad light and rain stopped play about 4:30 and headed for home. It is, I dare to suggest, unlikely that Worcestershire will save the follow on should Gale decide to enforce it and that the task of taking 14 wickets in six sessions even with some interruptions from showers will not prove beyond the Yorkshire bowlers and thus seal a maximum points win.
At the other end of the table five counties might consider themselves as relegation possibilities and the next two days are unlikely to offer comfort to more than one of those sides. Somerset can expect to lose their fifth match of the season before lunch today and if my forecast for Scarborough is right, then The Pears record will read played 11 lost 7 by sometime tomorrow.
I spoke to a friend from Sussex on the telephone last night and he is pessimistic of his native county being in Div 1 next season . This is based not just on their position in the current game with Notts but on the remaining matches which involve two games with Yorkshire, a trip to Lord's, and matches with relegation rivals Somerset and Worcestershire. With the last two seen as threats rather than opportunities the contents of my friend's glass are struggling to reach halfway. In the last of the current matches Hampshire are still a long way behind Durham's first innings total and it would seem unlikely that they will add to their season's one victory before they go into 50 over mode next week. But as the BBC's Mike Bushell remarked after one hour's play in the Open Golf last Thursday, 'there is still a long way to go'. Got that one right Mike.
* the numbers on the Worcestershire's slips' shirts add up to 143, comfortably beating the record set by Sussex last year.