Con­sis­tency of 2014 con­tin­ues to elude White Rose side

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - CRICKET - CHRIS WA­TERS

YORK­SHIRE are in the rare po­si­tion of hav­ing their strong­est bat­ting line-up avail­able in this match.

So it was per­haps in­evitable, in a Sod’s Law kind of way, that it strug­gled at the Ageas Bowl on Satur­day.

Re­ply­ing to Hamp­shire’s 455 all­out, York­shire lost half their team for 46 as Alex Lees fell for nought, Adam Lyth for eight, Joe Root for eight, Peter Hand­scomb for one and Jonny Bairstow for seven.

Only Gary Bal­lance, with a com­par­a­tively colos­sal 63 not out, stopped the rot as York­shire reached 128-6 by stumps, with Tim Bres­nan (21) the other man to fall.

No mat­ter the qual­ity of per- son­nel in their side, with Root and Bairstow mak­ing their first ap­pear­ances of the sea­son, it seems that York­shire’s bat­ting re­mains a work in progress.

For the past cou­ple of sea­sons, the club have made no se­cret of the fact that they are not happy with the col­lec­tive con­tri­bu­tions of lead­ing play­ers, even if they have all shone in­di­vid­u­ally at var­i­ous times.

Al­though it is still early days in the new cam­paign, the club are anx­ious for a re­turn to the con­sis­tency of 2014, when they reg­u­larly posted size­able to­tals.

The ful­fil­ment of that ob­jec­tive could well be key to their hopes of re­claim­ing the ti­tle, cur­rently on ‘loan’ at ri­vals Mid­dle­sex.

When York­shire fi­nally be­gan their first in­nings af­ter tea on day two, there were per­haps some tired minds as well as tired bod­ies within their ranks.

Hamp­shire’s last three wick- ets had added 153 – Gareth Berg fin­ish­ing un­de­feated on 99 – af­ter the hosts had slipped to 302-7 from their overnight 281-4. Once again, Ben Coad, the 23-year-old pace man, was the pick of the York­shire at­tack, fin­ish­ing with 4-71 from 30 overs.

Oth­er­wise, the vis­i­tors toiled in the ab­sence of in­jured trio Jack Brooks, Ryan Side­bot­tom and Liam Plun­kett.

The con­trast be­tween York­shire’s hard-work­ing bowl­ing ef­fort and Hamp­shire’s in­ci­sive one was high­lighted when Berg and Kyle Ab­bott pro­duced dev­as­tat­ing new-ball spells. There was sim­ply not a mo­ment’s respite for the bats­men as they re­duced York­shire to 19-4 in­side 13 overs.

Lees was trapped lbw by Berg; Lyth played on to Berg as he de­fended in­de­ter­mi­nately off the back foot; Root fol­lowed a delivery from Berg that rose on him out­side off-stump and drew an edge be­hind, and Hand­scomb was trapped lbw by Ab­bott.

It seemed as though Hand­scomb was un­for­tu­nate, the Australian ap­pear­ing to get his pad out­side the line of off-stump, but the wicket was no more than Ab­bott de­served af­ter he had given Bal­lance, in par­tic­u­lar, a tough work­ing over.

Bairstow has long been a man for a cri­sis, but not even he can do it ev­ery time. The Eng­land wick­et­keeper was fifth out when he tried to turn Brad Wheal through mid-wicket and was trapped lbw.

Bal­lance and Bres­nan added 48 for the sixth wicket in 12 overs be­fore Bres­nan hung out his bat at one from Berg and was ad­judged caught be­hind. Bal­lance fought hard af­ter his testing start, Adil Rashid end­ing un­beaten on 16.

PIC­TURE: SWPIX.COM

PETER HAND­SCOMB: His lbw dis­missal ap­peared to be un­for­tu­nate, as he seemed to get his pad out­side the line of off-stump.

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