Recent Match Report – Lancashire vs Yorkshire 25th Match 2022


Yorkshire 356 for 8 (Root 147, Bailey 3-56, Parkinson 3-79) trail Lancashire 566 for 9 declared (Jennings 238, Croft 104, Vilas 82) by 210 runs

Should it be announced that by some miracle Len Hutton ‘in his prime’ would be playing at Headingley tomorrow, one imagines Yorkshire’s ground would not be anything like big enough to accommodate the spectators wanting to watch him bat. If it was further disclosed that Hutton would be facing the bowling of Brian Statham, the crowds from Sheffield, Bradford and elsewhere in the kingdom would have to compete with even more folk coming across the M62. So what might we make of the fact that in today’s common sunshine we saw Joe Root make 147 against a Lancashire attack that included James Anderson? This afternoon, such a sight was familiar; we may see it again tomorrow as Yorkshire look to avoid defeat. But in three summers’ time…?

Let us be cautious. Hutton and Statham epitomised their county’s best qualities and combined to wonderful effect on a famous Ashes tour. On top of which, there was an essential integrity about the two men that ennobles their posthumous reputations. Not for nothing was Malcolm Lorimer’s collection of tributes to Statham entitled Glory Lightly Worn. Root, though, is only 31 and may have five years of first-class cricket ahead of him. And while Anderson will be 40 in July, it seems clear he will play on as long as he retains both his fitness and his private fire. We cannot yet definitively assess the career of either of our current champions.

And now let us not be cautious at all. Much of what we said about Hutton and Statham applies to Root and Anderson. Most critics would agree that over the past five years the pair have been their country’s best cricketers (although Ben Stokes would also be in that frame.) They are fit to be ranked with their predecessors and the only truly surprising aspect about Root’s century today was that it followed his six other first-class innings against Lancashire, in which he had managed a total of 58 runs with a best of 22.

Everything else was fond and familiar. There was the unobtrusive accumulation of runs as though he did not want the bowlers to cotton on they were being milked. He got off the mark with a single squeezed backward of square on the leg side off Anderson. He leg-glanced his England colleague for his first four and later cover-drove him twice to the Long Room boundary.

Vastly more frequent were the Bank of England defensive strokes, the controlled hooks, the wristy cut past gully or the tuck to either side of square leg. There were two edges through the slips but neither went to hand. Root’s scoring rate appeared the work of a conjurer: his fifty came off 73 balls and his century off 150.

He vastly outscored Harry Duke, whose 40 runs came off 202 balls and with whom Root put on 154 before the Yorkshire keeper was bowled when trying to ramp a ball from Matt Parkinson. That was a sad end to Duke’s innings and utterly at variance with nearly four hours of self-denial. He had played not so much second fiddle as fourth triangle to Root but his efforts were plainly vital to Yorkshire’s huge effort to draw this match. And those endeavours must continue tomorrow. Root’s dismissal, caught at slip by Luke Wells when trying to work Parkinson to leg six overs before the close, has left Yorkshire 60 runs short of avoiding the follow-on.

By comparison with his former England captain, Anderson sometimes looked a little out of sorts. He roughed up George Hill with short balls early in the morning session and dismissed him when Hill dishclothed a pull to Dane Vilas at midwicket. Otherwise, the man often seen as the finest new-ball bowler in England’s history frequently seemed discontented, either with a streaky shot or with the slow pitch or with life itself. And of course, he has something of an issue with Root at present. The ex-England skipper was at least complicit in the decision to leave Anderson and Stuart Broad out of the party for the recent tour to the West Indies, which perhaps explains why the Lancashire bowler was unwilling to engage in much chat with his friend. Then a reluctant smile would play about that world-weary face. After all, this was only Rooty and, my God, had they played some cricket together?

Lancashire’s other bowlers looked rather bland on this Headingley pitch. But Tom Bailey’s accuracy earned him two more wickets today and Parkinson’s undimmed willingness to wheel away on an unresponsive surface was ultimately rewarded with the wickets of Duke and Root. And the leg-spinner’s removal of Harry Brook may have had an even greater effect on this game.

For it is difficult to imagine that cricket can be made to seem much simpler than Brook contrived to do during his 48-minute innings this morning. George Balderson, a fine young player and a useful fourth seamer, was humbled to impotence by five boundaries in two overs. But perhaps it all became too easy; perhaps Brook needed a reminder that it was earth beneath his feet. Instead, he looked to work a fine leggie from Parkinson through midwicket but did not get to the pitch of the hard-spun ball. It turned past his bat and hit the middle stump. Brook was thus dismissed for 41, his first score below fifty in seven first-class innings this season. He currently averages 135 but such statistics sometimes play us false; not in Brook’s case, however. The neutrals who have watched him bat are certain that no cricketer in England is in better form.


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