Yorkshire openers come good

Lv County Championship

Joe Sayers & Jacques Rudolph

Jacques Rudolph and Joe Sayers embark on an opening stand worth 123. The latter fell shortly before the close

Jacques Rudolph and Joe Sayers ended Yorkshire’s lean run of opening partnerships on the first day of their LV= County Championship Division One match with Worcestershire at Headingley Carnegie.

The two left-handers put on 123 in 46 overs before Sayers departed for 49, leaving incoming batsman Michael Vaughan just two balls to face before rain set in and ended play for the day with the score unchanged. Rudolph was unbeaten on 73.

It was Yorkshire’s first century opening stand since Sayers and Craig White added 177 against Worcestershire at Headingley almost exactly two years ago.

With Adil Rashid on England Lions duty, Yorkshire brought in left-arm spinner David Wainwright, and they also preferred Ajmal Shahzad to fellow seamer Deon Kruis, while Worcestershire gave championship debuts to their Namibia-born Dutch international Alexei Kervezee and David Wheeldon.

Put in to bat in cool and overcast conditions, Yorkshire had to take every care against impressive new-ball bowling from Ashley Noffke and Matthew Mason, and Sayers enjoyed a life on three when a bat-pad chance off Mason was put down by Moheen Ali at short-leg.

Worcestershire captain Vikram Solanki had to leave the field briefly for treatment when he damaged his hand after stopping a ball in the slips which landed just short of him.

The batsmen gradually took control and Sayers, the slower of the two, leg-glanced his first boundary to move into double figures after facing 63 deliveries, but Rudolph provided a moment of excitement when his top-edged hook off Mason carried for six.

Jacques Rudolph

Rudolph latches on to a short delivery en route to a dogged half-century. He will resume tomorrow morning on 73

Rudolph contributed 33 and Sayers 17 to the 50 stand and shortly before lunch Sayers produced a couple of handsome cover drives at the expense of Imran Arif and Chris Whelan.

Yorkshire were 76 without loss at the interval and on the resumption Rudolph soon moved to his half-century, off 86 balls and containing two fours and a six.

The scoring rate increased as Worcestershire’s attack began to lose some of its sharpness and too many deliveries were short and wide of off stump.

The century stand came up in 226 balls with Rudolph 62 and Sayers 41 and the game still awaiting its first extra, but the light was deteriorating fast and Sayers’ downfall came just before play ended for the day.

He top-edged an attempted hook off Whelan, and wicketkeeper Steve Davies made ground to the leg side to claim the catch.

Sayers, justifying his return to the side after a poor season last year, had faced 160 balls and struck five fours in more than three hours at the crease.

Former England captain Vaughan was looking for a continuation of his Sunday form - he struck 82 in the Friends Provident victory over Sussex - but the weather stepped in to prevent him making an impression on the eve of the Test squad being announced.

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