Cricket Sport

Mitchell and Moeen get that Festival feeling

Worcestershire310 for 1 (Mitchell 140*, Moeen 107*) lead Yorkshire 216 (Williamson 80, Pennington 4-53, Barnard 3-32) by 94 runs

There is a crouching stance with the shoulders slightly hunched; there is a firm step back and then there is a non-committal move forward; there are skills learned over 14 summers and a temperament that has been tested by the best in the world; in time there are cuts and punches; staple runs are worked backward of square; flamboyance is left to others. “Labour well the Minute Particulars,” wrote William Blake. One supposes Daryl Mitchell would agree.

So, perhaps, would Moeen Ali. His style at the wicket could hardly contrast more clearly with Mitchell’s yet the pair combined in an unbroken 199-run second-wicket partnership which seized complete control of this game for Worcestershire and gives the visitors a clear opportunity to build on their 94-run lead and register their second victory of the season.

And on the day when Jonny Bairstow broke his finger, Moeen’s century will have been noticed by the England selectors at Trent Bridge. He reached three figures off 160 balls with a thunderclap of a cover drive, hit on the up off Jack Brooks, but he had by then earned the right to offer his full repertoire. Along with Mitchell, who batted quite as well as his partner, Moeen defied and defeated Yorkshire’s weakened attack for 56 overs at North Marine Road. The home coaches bemoaned the absence of both Steve Patterson and Ben Coad but Mitchell and Moeen were properly tested on a bouncy pitch. The opener’s bruises testified to that.

Early in the morning spectators took the seats they have occupied since Ray Illingworth was on rusks and waited for early breakthroughs. But all they saw was Mitchell and Tom Fell accumulating runs in such a deft fashion one might have thought they did not wish to be noticed. Willey tried all his seamers except himself but nothing worked. The openers hit half a dozen fours in the first hour but none forked lightning. Fisher and Brooks tried bouncers but only conceded boundary byes.

Yorkshire took their only wicket at 12.15 when Fell was leg before on the walk to Brooks for 45. He had put on 111 with Mitchell, the first century opening stand in Yorkshire’s Championship matches this season. Fell batted far better than his score suggests. He saw off the new ball, battled through Sunday’s murk and defied Yorkshire’s attack for over an hour on a morning when they expected to take wickets.

On this bright and balmy Monday, though, one wicket did not bring two. Instead it brought Moeen to the crease and he was soon batting quite beautifully against the Yorkshire seamers, driving them through point and cover when he could and working them around when there was nothing else in the shop. After lunch Willey opened with Brooks and Matt Fisher who threw all their strength into making a breakthrough. Mitchell nurdled three singles through gully in 20 minutes and was whacked around the midriff, but he survived it all and the batsmen then cashed in against the part-time off-spin of Adam Lyth.

Moeen reached his fifty off 85 balls a few minutes before Mitchell reached three figures with a back foot cover drive. Rain then caused a mid-afternoon delay which was as unwelcome to the visitors as Sunday evening’s stoppage had been pleasing. When play resumed Ali immediately whacked Josh Poysden over wide long-on for six and the pair had added a further 85 runs before bad light ended play on a day when 28.3 overs had been lost. Worcestershire will arrive on the third morning looking to press on and achieve what would be a vital win in what is the biggest fortnight of their season.

There has, though, been another context to this festival. This has been a match when Yorkshiremen have thought of absent players but those in the media have marked the passing of a colleague. Dave Callaghan, who commentated on the county’s matches for Radio Leeds for over 30 years, died suddenly in March. His loss is sharply felt and the players feel it too. However bad their day had been Cally was almost always able to cheer them up a bit and the Yorkshire squad observed a minute’s silence when they heard of his death.

Cally loved Scarborough and so it was only appropriate on the first day of this game that the two broadcasting boxes were renamed “Cally 1” and “Cally 2” in his memory. These are tough weeks for Yorkshire but any cricketer knows that defeats must be borne by any side. For the friends of Dave Callaghan the loss is of a quite different order and it is particularly acute during the Festival.

Source : ESPN Cricinfo

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