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Swapping snow for sunshine

Posted in Domestic Cricket

Looking at Headingley just last week, you would not have thought it would host cricket just nine days later.

I was sat in the Long Room, still smarting having watched Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph look decidedly more comfortable in the nets than I ever have - yes, it turns out smashing 85mph bowling down the ground comes easily to NFL players - when I saw the miserable picture outside.

There was not a blade of green grass in sight, just a white sheet of snow.

"There is meant to be a game here next week," observed a colleague, "I cannot see that happening."

Well, today it did happen with Headingley initially living up to early-season clich├ęs by being a bowler's dream and batsman's nightmare.

Headingley snow

Headingley was covered in snow last week, but today played host to a full allocation of overs as Yorkshire took on Leeds/Bradford MCCU

At least that is what a glance at the scorecard would suggest.

The reality lies somewhere in the middle; ring-rust, surprising given Yorkshire played competitive cricket on a recent tour to Barbados, combined with Leeds/Bradford MCCU's bowlers making full use of slightly helpful conditions to ensure a good supply of early wickets.

The upshot was frustration for the smattering of Yorkshire fans in attendance, especially when Jonny Bairstow was caught behind having played some fluent strokes en route to 20.

After seeing Azeem Rafiq and Liam Plunkett fall immediately after to leave the White Rose 65 for seven, I could not help but wonder whether the aforementioned Rudolph would be receiving an SOS call from first-team coach Jason Gillespie.

Yet that was not necessary as Gary Ballance and Ryan Sidebottom performed a rescue act.

Their stand, which married good fortune with largely solid defence, had reached 146 by the time I had to head home at tea; Yorkshire were 211 for seven.

Aptly, it was a partnership more for the purists than the 'Twenty20 generation', one that was more pleasing for its dogged nature than aesthetic beauty.

However, given the bleak scene that greeted me last week, I considered it as beautiful as a Michael Vaughan cover drive.

The new season is officially here, ladies and gentlemen. I saw it with my own eyes, on a ground that last week bore more resemblance to a ski resort.