Thursday, 4 May 2017

Cook sees both sides at Headingley

posted by John Winn

Stephen Cook, Durham's overseas player for the first half of the season, had a day of contrasting fortunes at Headingley yesterday. Cook made an inauspicious start to his time at the Riverside, three scores of two or less in his first two championship matches, but he has been running into form and after 60 in the Bears' den on Monday he hit 106 at Headingley yesterday and assisted by two of his fellow countrymen, Jennings and Richardson  helped Durham post 335 for 5, a total that seemed to guarantee a decent crowd an entertaining afternoon in pleasant sunshine. And boy did we get entertainment, principally from Johnny Bairstow who broke all kinds of records in hitting 174. The 174 which included 16 fours and 7 sixes was the highest List A score by a Yorkshireman  at Headingley and set up the county's  highest successful run chase in that form of cricket.

The ECB had depleted both sides with the late withdrawal of Plunkett and Willey for Yorkshire and Wood for Durham. Withdrawals so late that even the ECB felt sufficiently embarrassed to issue an apology but the two obvious replacements, Coad and Onions were left on the sidelines as Durham elected to bat. This was Cook's moment for he had an opening stand of 124 with skipper Jennings and then added exactly the same with Richardson. At this point the innings faltered a little, four wickets down for 32, but Steel, surprisingly I thought preferred in the batting order to Poynter, batted sensibly to add 55 with Richardson the latter going to his century off the last ball of the fifty overs. Those of us who had found the fence a little uncomfortable now rested for the most part on the Durham side while we ate what little of our lunch had survived until 2:30.

Yorkshire began their reply briskly with Bairstow looking in good form from the start but Lyth was less confident and fell for 19, nicely caught by Weighell* at square leg. Root did not look very assured but he was happy to leave it to Bairstow who was particularly severe on debutant George Harding and leg spinner Cameron Steel, Harding who reached the Riverside via Dorset, Cheshire and Lancashire suffered the unkindest cut of all when Bairstow was on 71and was put down by Cook at long off.  It is tempting for a Durham member to think that this was the turning point in the game but with Handscombe and Ballance to come and Waite as low as 8, a more considered view might be that Yorkshire would have won anyway, a thought that had it crossed his mind might have helped Cook to sleep last night.

As it was by the time Bairstow was caught behind off the persevering and no doubt perspiring  Weighell Yorkshire's task had become a relatively simple one. Root, played on, and Ballance, hit wicket, found two of the more unusual ways of getting out but Handscombe,  with a little help from Bresnan, saw the White Rose home before six o'clock and with 14 balls to spare. Three out of three for Yorkshire and next up Worcestershire at New Road on Friday when Durham, one win, one defeat, one abandoned, take on Leicestershire at  South Northumberland on the same day.

Finally a little titbit from yesterday's run glut is that in the 97 completed  overs there was just one maiden and I am grateful to Graham Sykes for pointing out to me that it was bowled by Weighell to Ballance.

* pronounced as in wheel, not as in whale which BBC Five Live extra commentators seem to think.

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