Warwickshire 219 and 49 for 1 trail Yorkshire 296 (Lyth 62, Bresnan 47, Rankin 3-48) by 28 runs
If you must go down, at least go down with dignity. That message might have been imprinted on every aspect of Warwickshire’s bowling display at Headingley. Committed and disciplined, who knows if it will spare them their ninth defeat in a bleak Championship season, but it deserved respect. At such times, a little stubbornness can go a long way.
Down on the south coast, the champions Essex were getting giddy, forced to follow-on against Hampshire after they were dismissed for 76, the lowest score in Division One this season before pulling themselves together second time around. It does not take much for performances to dip once the season is as good as over. But while the champions were off colour, the side at the bottom dug deep. End-of-season matches have a habit of being unpredictable.
For a Yorkshire side who began the round only a point above the relegation places, no gifts were about to be bestowed. Their first-innings lead of 76 gave them an advantage, but it required a methodical batting performance to establish a position that was looking far from unassailable when Warwickshire reached 49 for 1, 28 behind, with a dodgy weather forecast for the third day.
Jeetan Patel, a century-maker on Tuesday, glued Warwickshire together with 35 overs of offspin, going at less than two runs an over on a pitch designed with Yorkshire’s all-seam attack in mind. Chris Wright was also unyielding, adding Alex Lees, who was bowled through the gate as he drove at an inswinger, and Andrew Hodd, who jabbed at one that left him, to the dismissal of West Indian Kraigg Brathwaite the previous evening.
Adam Lyth top scored with 62 before he fell pulling at Boyd Rankin. The national selector, James Whitaker, had not stayed on for a second day to watch Gary Ballance, who was beaten by Patel’s turn, pushing defensively, and was caught at the wicket.
A year ago at Lord’s, Tim Bresnan had played the most heroic innings of his career as he tried to bat Yorkshire to the title. His unbeaten 142 was unavailing, as Middlesex took the prize, but it won him mountains of praise, Bresnan himself providing the earthiest description in an interview at the end-of-season dinner when he reflected that he had been forced to drag his spade out of his kit bag once more to try to dig Yorkshire out of the shit.
This time the waste products were not quite as apparent as he appeared at 179 for 6, his arrival delayed until No. 8 because of a nightwatchman. But there was a blue-collar job to do nonetheless and he struck 47 – nothing better all day than his straight drive against Wright – before he tried to reach fifty with a slog-sweep against Patel and was bowled behind his legs.
Matthew Fisher also played a decisive part in Yorkshire’s lead. His Championship return brought five wickets on the opening day, a well-fashioned 37 on the second, a reminder of his all-round ability. There was frustration, though, as he was last out with Yorkshire three runs short of a third batting point, offering a return catch to the bowler off a leading edge. It was a simple catch but, in stretching to take it, Rankin hurt his ankle and was left hopping agitatedly. It should not prove terminal but with Rankin you never can tell.