It was an early start to avoid the Leeds traffic on the next morning as we journeyed to New Rover Cricket Club the playing headquarters of the Yorkshire Academy. As last year, when we were hosted at Headingley, it must be observed that the Yorkshire set up could not have been more helpful and welcoming. Keith Boyce, formerly the Headingley groundsman, looks after New Rover and it shows. The main scoreboard from the test venue has been moved there following the re-development at the county headquarters.
George Batty, in charge of the Academy team, made it clear that all the facilities were available for us and we were paid the compliment of them including their English Academy short listed Tim Bresnan, and of being umpired by Richard Kettleborough who is being fast tracked to the first class list.
Perhaps light headed as a result of all this we batted in a rather skittish way. On a warm somewhat dark morning it could be argued that batting first was not our best option. Apart from Simpson, un-done by Glover's pace, each of the top6 reached double figures. However of these only Richard Sterling, a late replacement on the trip for the indisposed Paul McKenzie, showed the necessary application notably in conjunction with his captain. Wells had fired off some early salvoes memorably an on-drive for 4 followed by a hook to long-leg for 6 when Glover's 4th over went for 17 runs. Alas he fell in the next over; just when Coghlan promised stability he was bowled by Greg Batty.
Despite pleas from the management at the mid-innings drinks break that we must consolidate to ensure that we occupy the full 50 overs, light-headed shots from Kelly and Prior, followed by the demise of Sterling when he misjudged a first delivery long-hop by Bhatti saw Ireland sink to 98 for 7.
Stuart McDonnell then joined the assured OāBrien and played the most remarkable knock. His 46 out of a partnership of 52 contained 7 fours and 2 sixes, almost all genuine shots which had the cumulative effect of forcing the Academy to disperse their fielders to points wide and far. The only regret was that Stuart continued to fling the bat when he now had singles available in all directions and still a further 11 overs at his disposal. However when he was caught the other 2 wickets fell with indecent haste, so that big Boyd didnāt even get the chance to open his shoulders. It was to say the least a big disappointment that we were so short of batting our overs, and the need to rearrange our cricket so that we develop players who can play an appropriate innings was never more clearly illustrated. What made the affair so much more frustrating was that our bowlers now performed with distinction especially at the start of the reply.
Bhatti and Sarfraz had taken the score to 21 in the 5th over when the latter fell for Boyd Rankin's double bluff yorker, and 2 balls later Simon Wells took a sharp low catch in the gulley off Stuart Kidd to remove Bhatti. Unfortunately Kidd's elbow strain meant that he couldn't continue, but Kevin O'Brien again proved to be the most demanding of our bowlers. He held a remarkable return catch from Bresnan and then bowled Purah off his pads so that after 12 overs the Academy were reeling at 39 for 4. The impressive 16-year old (with the familiar name) Haroon Rashid then joined Neil Longhurst in the match-winning stand. Both players were dropped off reasonably difficult chances but Rashid's class in particular stood out; following his departure John Pryor's off-spin ensnared both Broadbent (stumped by O'Herlihy) and Thornycroft (well caught by Kelly off a skier).Defeat came with 17 overs, but only 3 wickets to spare.