Leicestershire 201 for 5 (Ackermann 67, Handscomb 62*) trail Yorkshire 517 (Malan 132, Bean 118, Milnes 75) by 316 runs
But it’s another challenge entirely to build the foundations on pitches in an English spring to support a reputation already granted. Leicestershire’s ingenu has begun that task over the past two days at Headingley and, if the pitch was still slow and the breeze still chilly, at least this time there was sun to provide some encouragement.
If there is any point in this comparison across the ages, it is to remark that it is unfair to expect too much from someone acclaimed so young. Reputation can hang heavily, even for a player who is widely praised by those in the know for his quiet maturity and level-headedness, an accolade rarely enjoyed by Close. Rehan is still a teenaged professional learning his trade – that Karachi Test debut was only his fourth first-class match and he still has only 19 first-class wickets.
His second wicket was cleverer, quicker and wider to set up a stumping for Peter Handscomb as George Hill advanced down the pitch; a token half-raise of his arm to mark this one. By the time he bowled Dom Bess (49 from 43 balls) to wrap up Yorkshire’s innings, he was happier in his work. A sticky 5ft 9ins, he reputedly bowls a little quicker than Adil Rashid, hunting the stumps, and there was air of the hunter in this dismissal, a quicker ball that beat Bess on the pull and caused Rehan to punch his palm in satisfaction. It completed the sense of a bowler who even so early in his career appears to have the wherewithal more often than not to survive the tough days.
There will be more challenges like this over the summer, often fought out when scrutiny is conspicuous by its absence. That will bring its own test. By his own admission, until he shared in the joy of the Karachi Test win, he used to see the longer formats as “a boring game”. He has serious pretensions as an all-rounder and while he commits himself to his first full county season, he is likely to be giving more of an eye to events in the IPL.
Leicestershire acquitted themselves well in response to Yorkshire’s 517. Sol Budinger looked more like Sol Budweiser – two beers for the price of one – as he attempted a series of intoxicating hacks at Milnes, four boundaries within six balls, none of them convincing, before he sliced an attempted leg-side hit to mid off.
The new ball brought two more breakthroughs. Lewis Hill edged Ben Coad to slip, pushing warily forward, and Jordan Thompson rescued a good return catch, diving forward, to account for Ryan Patel.
But this is a sedate surface, offering little lateral movement for the first week of April and Handscomb and Colin Ackermann played with poise in an fourth-wicket stand of 121. Even the sight of Bess’ new-look platinum hairstyle could not unnerve them. The crowd settled back, arms folded, huddled in winter coats, looking in the Rugby Stand like flies on a white wall, not quite as short-sighted as your average fly, to be fair, but probably a good deal easier to swat.
David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps