Yorkshire’s special day – out of many – turns out to be a mixed occasion | Andy Bull | Sport


It was Yorkshire Day on Wednesday, a rare opportunity for those of us unlucky enough to be born in the other 47 counties to hear Yorkshire folk talk about where they are from and how proud they are about it. It was not immediately clear how this made it any different from the other 364 days in the year but at Edgbaston the day had a strong Yorkshire flavour to it, as conspicuous as the Yorkshire brass band who parp away during the tea-break. There were three Yorkshiremen in the England team – Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid– and between them they dominated the build-up to the series and defined the first day’s play.

The celebrations got off to an inauspicious start. Colin Graves, whose tenure as chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board seems to be one long attempt to belie his own reputation as a no-nonsense Yorkshireman, was presented with a silver plate and a small statue of a bear and ragged staff before the start of play to mark the start of England’s 1,000th men’s Test match. Graves is keen to prove that, despite everyone else’s reservations, the sport is in safe hands. Inevitably, then, he held the plate but fumbled the bear, blushed and gathered it back up off the grass.

It got worse. India revealed that they had decided to leave Che Pujara out of their team. Pujara made a point of preparing for this tour by playing with Yorkshire in the months before the series started. The plan did not quite work out as he had hoped. In six Championship matches he made 172 runs at an average of 14. So in four months of cricket he essentially managed to play his way out of the Test team. He may have had a better chance of making the side if, like Rashid, he had refused to play red-ball cricket at all.

Root and Bairstow did better. They marked it with a partnership of 104, which started when England were wobbling at 112 for three. They were separated, in the end, by a misunderstanding about whether or not they should chance a second run to Virat Kohli at midwicket. The answer, they discovered when Kohli hurled the ball in on the turn and hit the stumps from 20 yards, was probably not.

Kohli pressed the point by blowing a couple of kisses, holding his finger to his lips, and then pretending to drop a mic to the ground in a sly imitation of Root’s celebration after his match-winning century in the ODI at Headingley a couple of weeks ago.

Root was run out for 80. It has been 20 innings since he last scored a hundred. He made 136 here last year against West Indies and he has made it past 50 in 11 of them. This one felt especially painful, since he had played so assiduously through the morning and afternoon, determined, it seemed, finally to make good on a hundred. Nobody has scored more Test fifties than Root has since he made his debut, in 2012, but plenty – Kohli, Steve Smith, David Warner, Kane Williamson and Younis Khan – have made more centuries.

There are worse problems for a batsman to have but Root’s seems to be contagious. Since he became captain last year, England have scored more fifties than any other team, 52, but have managed to turn only nine of them into scores of a hundred or more. In the same time India have made 32 fifties and 19 hundreds, Australia 31 and 15. This in turn makes Root’s flaw all the more conspicuous because, if no one else in the top six is playing match-defining innings, there is even more of an onus on the team’s best batsman, Root, to stand up and do it for them.

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Three overs later Bairstow fell too, when he played-on as he tried to cut Umesh Yadav away square. He had not only run his captain out but compounded the mistake by being dismissed so soon after. He would have been wise to give Root just a little more time to cool off before he joined him back in the dressing room and to have come armed with the defence that at least he had gone on to make a century. Instead the run out turned out to be the turning point of the innings. England collapsed to 285 for nine. They had lost six for 67.

Yorkshire got England out of trouble and Yorkshire landed them right back in it again.



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