Struggling Yorkshire in need of instant improvements
WHICHEVER way you look at it, this was a bad defeat for Yorkshire.
Losing to the First Division’s bottom club was bad enough per se. Losing to them by an innings and 186 runs – and on home soil to boot – was distinctly concerning.
Yorkshire’s fourth successive County Championship defeat at Scarborough – and their fifth in six matches there – left them third-bottom of the First Division, just five points ahead of a Worcestershire side who moved up a place.
Amid the inevitable doom and gloom, it should be remembered that there is still more than one-third of the Championship programme left, a consequence of the way that the competition has been squeezed into the season’s margins to make room for more white-ball cricket.
Yorkshire have five games to turn things around, against Somerset (H), Nottinghamshire (A), Lancashire (H), Hampshire (H) and Worcestershire (A).
It is not yet panic stations.
At the same time, there is also scope for their predicament to worsen, as it will unless they make instant improvements.
This was only Yorkshire’s second innings defeat in a Championship match at Scarborough – and their heaviest too, after Middlesex won by an innings and four runs in 2016.
David Willey, Yorkshire’s acting captain, delivered an honest appraisal of his side’s display.
“It’s been a difficult week,” said Willey, whose side would have dropped into the bottom two relegation positions had Lancashire beaten Surrey at the Oval instead of losing by six runs to go bottom themselves.
“Sometimes, you have to take your hat off and say that you’ve been outplayed, which has clearly been the case. Credit to them. I think they applied themselves better and, as a result, comfortably beat us. Moeen Ali played exceptionally well with bat and ball.
“It’s my first game as captain – my first Championship game since Hampshire away in April last year.
“I’m getting my bearings with four-day cricket as well, and, ultimately, we have to look at the next five games and get our processes right. There’s lots to be learnt.”
It did not take a genius to work out why Yorkshire lost this match.
They did not get enough runs in their first innings, a mere 216, and although there were one or two dodgy decisions, there were also too many soft dismissals – despite numerous efforts, for a long time now, to find that magic formula of collective consistency.
With the ball, Yorkshire impressed for long periods, despite Worcestershire replying with a towering 572-7 declared, their highest total in games against Yorkshire.
But Moeen (219) and Daryl Mitchell (178) showed exactly the sort of application that Yorkshire are seeking. Indeed, if they want a template of how to bat going forward, they could do worse than study footage of that second-wicket stand of 294.
Worcestershire needed only 40 minutes to wrap things up on yesterday’s final day after Yorkshire resumed on 140-6, 216 short of making the visitors bat again.
In glorious sunshine, which at least provided the consolation of an afternoon on the beach for some of those spectators present, who numbered 1,312 in total, Jonny Tattersall resumed on six alongside Willey, who had yet to score.
After Tattersall steered Wayne Parnell to the backward-point boundary in front of the West Stand, Willey played Moeen away for four through point before falling to the off-spinner’s next delivery, bowled playing back to one that turned.
Moeen’s fifth wicket of the innings was followed, three balls later, by his sixth, Matthew Fisher caught behind to leave Yorkshire 149-8 at the end of the day’s fourth over.
Extracting prodigious spin from the Peasholm Park end, Moeen was only the second Worcestershire player after Ted Arnold to score a double hundred and take five wickets in an innings in the same Championship match.
Arnold, who struck 200 not out and took 3-70 and 7-44 against Warwickshire at Edgbaston in 1909, was described in his Wisden obituary as “an allround cricketer of sterling merit”, sentiments that apply just as well to Moeen.
Moeen was denied the chance to emulate Arnold’s feat of taking 10 wickets in the same game as his double hundred when Dillon Pennington took the last two wickets.
First, the paceman bowled Jack Brooks with a fine delivery, the ball ricocheting off the stumps and getting stuck in the slats of the sightscreen at the Peasholm Park end, and then he rounded things off by having Josh Poysden caught at second slip.
One more wicket would have given Moeen a career-best.
As it was, he claimed 6-49 from 23 overs to go with 2-40 in the first innings and his impressive knock of 219.
Victory also represented a proud achievement for Kevin Sharp, the former Yorkshire player and coach.
“I worked for Yorkshire for 25 years,” he said.
“But I’m head coach at Worcestershire now, and we came here to do a job, and I’d say that we’ve done it very well.”
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