The Bears resume their Specsavers County Championship campaign with a mouth-watering clash with champions Yorkshire at Headingley on Thursday. The fixture has thrown up some momentous occasions over the years – Brian Halford looks back upon some standout Bears visits to the White Rose county.
As the 2011 season approached its business end, the Bears fleshed out their seam-bowling department with a surprise loan signing – Chris Wright from Essex.
The swoop raised a few eyebrows as Wright was on the fringes of the Essex team in Division Two of the championship. But Graeme Welsh and Ashley Giles knew what he was capable of – and Wright showed exactly that on his debut at Headingley where Yorkshire became the first victims of the Wright/Keith Barker partnership which was to bowl the Bears to the title the following year.
Even the best bowlers need runs behind them, of course, and in Leeds they were provided courtesy of Shivnarine Chanderpaul. After Barker and Wright shared six wickets to bowl Yorkshire out for 297, Warwickshire limped to five for two before Chanderpaul took root – for more than seven hours. With important initial support from Laurie Evans (30), the West Indies star settled in to make 193, further abetted along the way by Barker (85), Tim Ambrose (66), Neil Carter (40) and Jim Troughton, whose 27 included the innings’ only six.
Yorkshire were then unpicked for 127, with ducks for Jacques Rudolph, Antony McGrath, Gary Ballance and Ryan Sidebottom, as Barker took four and Wright bagged a debut five-for: five for 31.
Wright and Barker ended with combined match figures of 69-17-225-15. The Bears’ new pace pair were on the way – and the Bears were on the way, 13 months later, to the title.
Scarborough was the historic venue for the Bears’ visit to Yorkshire in 1994. Away teams at lovely North Marine Road are always assured a boisterous welcome from the raucous home fans but those supporters were silenced as the treble-chasing Warwickshire juggernaut thundered through.
Yorkshire batted first and made 310, a respectable total but not imposing on a good batting track on which Graeme Welch bowled with great skill for four for 74. When the Bears replied, Brian Lara missed out, making just 21 before becoming a prize first championship scalp for Alex Wharf, but Dominic Ostler took command. Ostler crunched his way to 186, cutting and driving with enormous power, which, supported by Andy Moles (65) and Welch (60) lifted his side to 459 – a lead of 149.
Martyn Moxon’s century held the Bears up second time round but spinner Dicky Davis worked his way through Yorkshire’s batting with six wickets to dismiss them for 347 and leave an attractive target of 199 in 49 overs. The top order made short work of that and an eight-wicket win was assured by Roger Twose (86 not out), Moles (48) and Ostler (40), the winning runs being struck off the bowling of Michael Vaughan.
When you leave the field with an unbeaten century to your name, having carried your bat, you expect to be greeted with appreciation and applause. The centre of attention.
But when Nick Knight returned to the pavilion at Headingley, unbeaten on 130 having batted through the innings, in 1998, he went almost unnoticed. Someone else was very much the centre of attention – for Warwickshire’s championship match in Yorkshire in ’98 was the last first-class match umpired by one Harold Richard Bird.
‘Dickie’ had just had the last say, too, his gnarled finger rising one last time to adjudge Ed Giddins lbw to Gavin Hamilton and seal Yorkshire’s victory by an innings and 27 runs. Then the crowd rose and the tributes and the tears flowed as the umpire’s long career came to an end in the county of his birth.
Knight politely joined in the ovation. He had batted with great skill and application but failed to save his team from a heavy defeat to which they were sentenced by a first-innings implosion for just 84 all out. After the home side batted first and amassed 408 for six declared, the Bears were undone by Paul Hutchison’s six for 25, Dougie Brown top-scoring with a modest 18.
They hit further trouble in their second innings, slumped to 175 for seven before Knight at last found a resolute partner in Ashley Giles. The eighth-wicket pair added 122, with Giles contributing a hard-hit 80, but when he fell the end was near and to Giddins fell the honour of being the last batsman sent on his way by the fateful, upraised digit of Dicky Bird.
Bowlers have been often been ascendant when Yorkshire and Warwickshire have met at Headingley over the years. In 1931, Yorkshire’s Hedley Verity capped the lot with an all-ten. Twenty-three years later the Bears’ Jack Bannister almost emulated Verity when, in a match ultimately condemned by rain to finish in a draw, he emphatically outbowled Fred Trueman.
Rain permitted only twenty minutes play on the first day, during which Warwickshire made 23 without loss against an attack included three giants of Yorkshire cricket and one debutant. Barnsley left-arm seamer Brian James, who was to take only eight matches in his first-class career, took his place alongside Trueman, Johnny Wardle and Bob Appleyard – who were to finish with a combined 4,858 wickets!
Day two was another rain-affected affair, Warwickshire advancing between the showers to 207 for four (Fred Gardner 70, Bert Wolton 33). Bannister did not actually set foot upon the field until the third morning but then, after the Bears declared at 281 for six (Trueman finishing with a hard-earned two for 67), rapidly made up for lost time.
Yorkshire reached 53 for one before Bannister’s metronomic accuracy, imbued with extra menace by clever variations of drift and swing, began to bite. He removed John Wilson, Willie Watson and Ted Lester in the space of two overs and continued to prune away at the White Rose until every petal had fallen with just 111 on the board. Bannister finished with 23-7-54-8. Put that pipe in your pipe and smoke it, Fred…
When Yorkshire, following on, lost Wilson for a duck, bowled by Tom Pritchard, the Bears sensed a tilt at a sensational victory but rain returned with Yorkshire 22 for one after 15 overs.