Somerset v Yorkshire: Leaning excels as Yorkshire get ready for change
IF this is Jason Gillespie’s last County Championship match in charge of Yorkshire, the players will be doubly determined to send him on his way to England with a win.
Gillespie may not be in place when Yorkshire take on Middlesex in the Championship at Headingley from Sunday week, when he will doubtless have his mind on weightier matters – specifically, how to plot the downfall of his native Australia in the Ashes.
As the circus continues around his anticipated appointment as England coach, which is expected to be confirmed shortly, Yorkshire are concerned with trying to get a victory that would improve Gillespie’s record as White Rose coach, which stands at played 52, won 22, drawn 27, lost 3.
They have made a good start, scoring 343-8 after losing the toss against a side who have lost three of their opening four Championship fixtures.
Gillespie, who provided no update on his situation yesterday, other than to say that there is no update, does not want speculation surrounding his future to affect Yorkshire this week.
There is not much chance of that, with the side boasting 912 first-class appearances between them and more than enough experience, and there was no evidence of it as Jack Leaning led the way with a brilliant hundred, his second of the summer.
Leaning scored 123, Tim Bresnan 54 not out and Jonny Bairstow 50 to put their side in a solid position.
Somerset plugged away on a dry pitch, with Peter Trego taking three wickets, but Yorkshire held sway beneath leaden skies which parted to allow sunshine in the final overs, the day not ending until 6.53pm as the hosts failed to field a specialist spinner.
With a quarter of the County Ground a building site – the old pavilion is being redeveloped at a cost of £3.5m – Taunton has a somewhat unusual feel.
There is often no nicer place to be on a summer’s day, but yesterday it looked largely grim and grey, with the Quantock Hills in the distance looking as bleak as Baildon Moor in winter.
The overhead conditions encouraged Marcus Trescothick, the Somerset captain, to bowl first, but he must have questioned his judgement as Yorkshire raced to 50-0 inside 12 overs.
Alex Lees played beautifully to get the innings off to a flyer, caressing six boundaries including four through the offside off Alfonso Thomas, and it was a surprise when he fell after 55 minutes, lbw to Trego.
Trescothick would have felt happier when Yorkshire took 27 overs in compiling their next 50 runs, by which time Lees’s partner, Will Rhodes, had also perished.
Rhodes departed 10 minutes before lunch to a smart catch at leg gully by Tom Cooper off Jamie Overton while trying to fend a delivery off his hips.
Yorkshire slipped to 118-3 in the 42nd over when Andrew Gale edged Trego to second slip, where Trescothick parried the ball to Jim Allenby at first.
Trescothick injured his right hand in attempting the catch but was able to continue after treatment.
As is his custom, Bairstow arrived to transform the tempo of the day.
The wicketkeeper is in splendid form and he showed it by taking four leg-side boundaries off one Trego over.
With Leaning batting like an old hand, taking whatever runs were on offer and defending stoutly, Yorkshire were progressing well.
But they were rocked by the loss of two wickets in three balls on the stroke of tea, Bairstow edging Craig Overton to second slip one ball after reaching his fifty to end a stand of 93 in 19 overs with Leaning, and Glenn Maxwell popping the second delivery of his Yorkshire Championship debut to Tom Abell at cover off the same bowler.
Adil Rashid has a good record against Somerset – he scored a hundred in the corresponding game last year – but he fell for nine, bowled by a good one from Thomas.
At 225-6, it was anyone’s day, but Leaning and Tim Bresnan added 117 in 27 overs before Leaning fell to the last ball of the penultimate over, bowled by Trego, and Liam Plunkett to the second delivery of the final over, lbw to Thomas.
Bresnan is another player in prime form and a dangerous customer when coming in to bat at No 8.
He helped the innings on to a much sounder footing and Leaning through to his hundred, which came from 192 balls with 15 fours.
Bresnan, of course, has prodigious power, which was revealed in the closing moments when he whipped a six over mid-wicket off Craig Overton that hit a male spectator on the head.
The man, sitting to the right of the players’ pavilion, only saw the ball at the last minute and made a vain attempt to duck out the way.
He was attended to by both the Yorkshire and Somerset physiotherapists and was soon seen chatting away in apparent good spirits.
He was later taken to hospital for precautionary tests.