Sayers shines before Yorkshire fold
Stand-in captain Joe Sayers did his best to make up for the absence of Jacques Rudolph but familiar batting frailties left Yorkshire struggling on 254 for eight against LV= County Championship title hopefuls Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
Rudolph’s departure to South Africa for a training camp meant Sayers captained the county for the first time in the championship and Adam Lyth earned a recall after a six-week break.
Together they held off Warwickshire for almost half the day, putting on 134 in 45 overs after Sayers had lost the toss, but from 181 for one they lost seven for 72 to leave their slender hopes of retaining top-flight status looking ever more tenuous.
If the home side expected a repeat of their crushing win when the two counties met at Headingley Carnegie last week, they were to be disappointed.
Indeed, title rivals Lancashire batted first at nearby Worcester and still beat them to a bowling bonus point by mid-afternoon.
At that stage Warwickshire had taken only one wicket – Rikki Clarke bowling Joe Root for 18 - as their seamers laboured to get anything out of a sluggish pitch.
There was a hint of swing and the occasional edgy shot, but in the main it was plain hard work as Yorkshire’s batsmen addressed some of the issues raised by last week’s defeat by an innings and 58 runs.
Martyn Moxon, the director of cricket, said it was “embarrassing” and Andrew Gale, the injured captain, used Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s knock of 193 for Warwickshire as an example of the ruthless streak that had been missing from Yorkshire’s batting.
The response to criticism was promising but too much ground was conceded as Warwickshire fought back with left-arm spinner Chris Metters claiming the two top scorers in a spell of three for 45.
Sayers, having worn down the seamers, went for 84, edging to the keeper as he pushed forward to Metters.
For the most part, the disciplined left-hander thrived on his new responsibility in making his fifth half-century since missing the second half of last season because of post-viral fatigue syndrome.
His innings, spanning nearly four hours and containing 13 fours, lit a beacon for his side until Warwickshire discovered the resolve of potential champions through the seam-and-spin combination of Chris Wright and Metters.
They removed Anthony McGrath and Jonathan Bairstow with catches at second slip by Clarke - and Metters secured the bigger prize when Lyth, having made 74 from 178 balls, was trapped on the crease, playing back.
The slump continued with the new ball. Keith Barker and Chris Woakes each took a wicket but Ajmal Shahzad eked out a second batting point with Ryan Sidebottom before he edged Clarke to second slip.