Durham 42 for 2 (Borthwick 21*, Potts 2*) trail Yorkshire 254 (Masood 44, Potts 4-49) by 212 runs
Yorkshire have dead-batted the extraordinary suggestion that they have floated a potential investment to stave off bankruptcy with the Saudi culture minister, Badr bin Abdullah Al Saud. If any Saudi princes happned to be watching, they may already be blocking future calls, calculating that bitcoin would be a safer bet. But 254 is a better score than it might at first appear.
For the most part, Yorkshire batted with considerable application in challenging conditions in a match that felt First Division quality. Six scores between 21 and 44 might sum up the pitch more than the players. If there is the same indifferent bounce and lavish swing available on Friday, they have the chance to respond in kind, and received just desserts in picking up two wickets in their 13 overs before the close.
But it is Durham who lead Division Two and Yorkshire who are still awaiting their first win, and who wasted initially commendable efforts on the first day at Emirates Riverside with a series of calamitous dismissals, capped by the extraordinary sight of three middle-order batters dismissed to a pull shot within 10 balls as Durham’s decision to try out some short stuff after tea proved ridiculously effective.
More on that can come later, because talk of Yorkshire and Saudi princes is not a subject that can be dropped so easily. Widely castigated for the past two years for alleged racism within the club, only Yorkshire could think it was a good idea to herald a new dawn by considering investment from a country that could add for good measure the death penalty for gay sex and widespread discrimination against women. It is to be hoped that the ECB has already had a word. There again, Yorkshire forever need to pour oil on troubled waters so if they could pick some up on the cheap it might be useful.
All this palaver because Yorkshire’s newly-constituted Board is wary of reappointing Colin Graves as chair – even though they owe him £14.9m, and he is willing to negotiate more favourable pay-back terms – on the grounds that he is somehow symbolic of the bad old days, without ever stating exactly why, and that he might browbeat them into a less progressive future.
A certain pragmatism might be advisable here. There can be bullying and bluster about Graves for sure – soon after his appointment as ECB chair, he once rolled up his sleeves to prepare for an interview with this reporter, strode into the room and announced “I’ve had my sleeves rolled up since the day I arrived” – but he has saved them from bankruptcy once and there is the usual element of soap opera that Yorkshire are reluctant to let him save them a second time.
It was quite a debut wicket for de Leede, an allrounder who had played only one previous first-class match and who has been brought to Durham by Ryan Campbell, a former Netherlands head coach. His father, Tim, also a former international, was on hand to see it. He is the eighth Netherlands-born player to enter county cricket, which is a decent record for a country with only about 70 clubs and which can tell a similarly worrying story to England about the incursion of football into the summer, the loss of facilities and the need to integrate Asian ex-pats if the game is to prosper.
The most accident-prone innings came, however, from Shakeel, who to be fair is not the first Yorkshire overseas player of late to have an undistinguished record, but who still managed to encapsulate their shortcomings in a single, disaster-prone innings.
Shakeel almost fell on nought when he inside-edged Ben Raine over his own stumps. On 3, he needed prolonged treatment on a turned ankle that had caused him to refuse a second run from Masood, attempted one more ball and limped off. He returned at No.8, with Adam Lyth as a runner, and second ball back was struck on the helmet when he tried to pull a bouncer from Potts, survived concerted appeals for a catch, and required a further stoppage.
His appetite for taking on the short ball undimmed, he yanked his next ball – only chest high – to de Leede in front of square and set off on a maudlin return to the pavilion that made Inzy’s slowest departures look spritely. George Hill and Dom Bess had succumbed in identical fashion in a post-tea giveaway.
All Masood’s work in the morning had therefore unravelled. He stripped his game down to basics, survived confident lbw shouts from Raine and Potts, worked occasional balls square of the wicket, and took Potts’ blow on his helmet in his stride until Potts followed up a couple of big outswingers by causing him to chop on. Dawid Malan also dug in stoutly, but slapped a wide ball to point just as he seemed about to break the shackles.
David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps