Switched off by the flood­lit ex­per­i­ment in Southamp­ton

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - CRICKET - CHRIS WA­TERS AT THE ROSE BOWL ■ Email: chris.wa­ters@jpress.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @CWater­sYPS­port

IT could have got sticky for York­shire, but it ended up be­ing a stroll to­wards safety.

At 112-4 on the fi­nal day, a sec­ond in­nings lead of just 19 runs, there was a chance that they could have been bowled out cheaply and that Hamp­shire would chase a reach­able tar­get.

Gary Bal­lance had just been caught be­hind for 21, push­ing for­ward at off-spin­ner Ol­lie Rayner to break a run of three suc­ces­sive Cham­pi­onship hun­dreds at the ground.

In the next over, Chetesh­war Pu­jara had been bowled for 32 by medium-pacer Ian Hol­land, the ball some­how squirt­ing be­tween bat and pad, York­shire los­ing two key wick­ets af­ter start­ing the day on 91-2.

But a sec­ond half-cen­tury of the match from Harry Brook, who fol­lowed his first in­nings 79 with 68, plus 54 not out from Jack Lean­ing in just un­der four hours, stead­ied the ship for the vis­it­ing side.

Their fifth-wicket stand of 108 in 38 overs rep­re­sented the bulk of the sal­vage work, which was com­pleted by Lean­ing in com­pany with Cham­pi­onship debu­tant Jonny Tat­ter­sall (22) and Tim Bres­nan (four not out) to raise a fi­nal score of 263-6.

Thus a com­bi­na­tion of tena­cious bat­ting, a typ­i­cally turgid Southamp­ton pitch, and a pink ball that of­fered nei­ther much help to the bowlers nor value for shots, saw the game pe­ter out in pre­dictable style.

It was, in the fi­nal anal­y­sis, a poor ad­vert for the com­pe­ti­tion, with the pitch, the ball, and a pal­try crowd on each of the four days ren­der­ing this lat­est flood­lit ex­per­i­ment a waste of time.

If you wanted two bats­men to help you fight to achieve a draw, to scrap and to sti­fle the op­po­si­tion bowlers, the names of Bal­lance and Pu­jara would be right up there near the top of the list, and the third- wicket pair ex­pe­ri­enced few alarms in the early stages of a mainly warm and sunny fourth day.

There was an ini­tial prob­ing burst from Dale Steyn, who opened with five overs for six runs from the Pav­il­ion end, but Bal­lance and Pu­jara ne­go­ti­ated the first 14 overs of pro­ceed­ings with barely the sug­ges­tion of dis­com­fort, de­fend­ing stoutly and play­ing se­lec­tively.

As such, it came as a sur­prise when both sud­denly fell in the space of six balls, end­ing their stand of 50 spread across 28 overs.

With York­shire’s bat­ting hardly hav­ing been their forte of late, Hamp­shire had a chance at that stage to cause a col­lapse, but they were re­pelled by the broad bats of Brook and Lean­ing, which skil­fully took the sting out of the sit­u­a­tion.

Rather than let Hamp­shire just bowl to him and dic­tate terms, Brook took a pos­i­tive ap­proach, danc­ing down the wicket early on to whip the spin of Rayner to the mid-wicket boundary.

When Steyn re­turned for a less ef­fec­tive sec­ond spell, Brook cut suc­ces­sive de­liv­er­ies from the South African fast bowler to the boundary with an al­most dis­mis­sive air, and a square- driven four off Gareth Berg was sim­i­larly im­pres­sive.

At the other end, Lean­ing was con­tent to let his young part­ner do his thing while com­fort­ably negat­ing the wiles of Rayner.

As his in­nings pro­gressed, Lean­ing also danced down the pitch to loft Rayner to the mid-wicket boundary be­fore ca­ress­ing Berg for a silky four through back­ward- point.

Brook, who took four off­side bound­aries in an over off Hol­land, seemed odds-on for the sec­ond Cham­pi­onship hun­dred of his ca­reer only to fall in prob­a­bly the worst way pos­si­ble.

When Lean­ing hit a straight drive back at Berg, the bowler threw out a right hand and de­flected the ball on to the stumps with the teenager stranded, with Lean­ing look­ing ev­ery inch as dis­ap­pointed for his part­ner as Brook was him­self.

Tat­ter­sall sur­vived for 70 min­utes be­fore be­ing bowled by Rayner, the sides shaking hands at 7.50pm.


JACK LEAN­ING: Skil­fully took the sting out of the sit­u­a­tion and helped York­shire to a com­fort­able draw at the Rose Bowl.

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