Alastair in his pomp

A slightly warmer day than of late greets a large number of spectators to Day 1 of Essex v Yorkshire at the Cloud County Ground (the FM has been dropped as people were expecting to dial into a radio station, and not a facilities management company) and the prospect of Root’s first first class appearance this season. Incidentally the snappers are out in force!

England’s last two captains!

Early arrival was necessary not only to gain a members car park space but also to beat the geriatrics in the race to the best seats! And by the start of play some areas were packed. Where were these people on Sunday?

Looks idyllic in Spring sunshine

Browne’s early departure in the first over and Westley’s later sees Essex lunching on 63/2 with Sir A holding things together on 31no, clearly batting himself into some kind of nick.

Yorkshire have kept to their game plan and bowled well as a group on a pitch with a reasonable green tinge; whether it gets flatter remains to be seen but yesterday’s rain was welcome for the outfield.

As often at the Cloud, the pitch position means large swathes of the ground are cordoned off squeezing members into even smaller spaces whilst the large area set aside for commentary boxes is devoid of seats/chairs but an ideal empty spot. I sometimes think that the game is being played for the benefit of someone other than the paying public and members.

The afternoon passes with sunny periods just like the Essex batting – occasional bursts of scoring interspersed with periods of maidens so much so that tea sees the score 138/2 Sir A 62no and Walter 43no – the latter carrying on from his long stay on Sunday.

The Yorkshire bowling looked less threatening with Brook (thought he was a rising star as a bat) and Root bowling for the last 25 minutes or so. Essex need to increase the scoring rate otherwise batting points will go begging and can Yorkshire take seven more in 44 overs? Well, the way Essex have been playing this season…probably but that all remains to be seen.

Again, not something you see every day!

By the close Sir A had made his century and went for 107; one of his cover drives was ‘worth the gate money alone’ as Richie used to say. Last week he couldn’t buy a run but today…he’s covered in riches!

Bess tries his best
Hill in action

Cook S was sent in as night watch for 4 overs but Walter, homing in on his best score and possibly a century for the second time in five days, managed to keep stealing the bowling.

Sending in #11 to slow down the scoring when you’re in need of batting points seems odd but there we are. Close sees Essex 234/3 having had the better of the day. I suspect Yorkshire having won the toss would have preferred Essex to be all out for that score!

The Yorkshire fast attack is best described as ‘monochrome’ – all right arm, fast medium bowlers, and, to be honest, if it were not for their numbers on their shirts you’d have difficulty distinguishing between all four.

By the close, the pitch was less green and more beige indicating that it has the potential to be a 500 plays 500 match especially as the potential from the Yorkshire bats is greater than Essex.

One interesting side issue was that 90 overs were bowled in five and a half hours and Yorkshire timed their play exquisitely so that the last ball of over 96 was bowled as the clock ticked over to 1800. Professional to the second! But the day belongs to Sir A!