Yorkshire’s veteran left-arm paceman Ryan Sidebottom gave a magnificent exhibition of the art of swing bowling by picking up seven for 44, the
second best figures of his career, on the second day of the LV=County Championship Division One match against Middlesex at North Marine Road.
The 36-year-old shrugged off the intense heat to exploit conditions to the full, grabbing three early wickets as Middlesex slumped to 11-4, and later coming back for a four-wicket third spell after a rallying 168 stand between Dawid Malan and John Simpson, who went on to make 110.
Sidebottom’s heroics helped bowl out the visitors for 232 to give Yorkshire a 21-run lead and with 13 overs to bat they closed on 29-1 with the match in the balance.
Asked why he came off with just one more wicket needed for a record return, Sidebottom said candidly: “I was shattered. I was delighted with my performance but I was battling towards the end.
“It was nice to contribute, especially towards the end when we were staring down the barrel and facing a 300-350 total.
“There is still plenty in the wicket and if we can make 250-300 we are in with a chance. I have bowled well before in these conditions and not taken wickets and Scarborough is a special place to do well.”
The true value of former Scarborough batsman Adam Lyth’s century on the opening day soon became apparent when Yorkshire resumed on 211 for six after a 30-minute wait for the ground to dry out and then lost their last four wickets for the addition of 42 runs in 55 minutes of play.
Although Yorkshire had begun the match satisfactorily they lost their way from 177-2 and would have been disappointed with a final score of 253.
Both Adil Rashid and Tim Bresnan hit early boundaries in a bright start but Steven Finn suddenly produced a sharply lifting ball towards Rashid’s throat and in fending it off the batsman looped a catch to Malan running to his right from second slip.
Steven Patterson was lbw to a full ball from Tim Murtagh but Bresnan responded in the same over by clipping the paceman over mid-wicket for six and soon afterwards taking a single off Finn to bring a second batting bonus point.
The end was quick in coming, however, as Sidebottom flicked Murtagh to Chris Rogers at mid-wicket and Bresnan guided Finn straight to Eoin Morgan at third man. Finn, who bowled better as the innings wore on, finished with 4-81.
Middlesex had six overs in which to bat before lunch and they went in on four for two as Sidebottom, particularly, made full use of the swing potential caused by high humidity and overcast conditions.
His eighth delivery to Rogers was perfectly pitched and left him late for Jonny Bairstow to take the catch behind the stumps.
It was a dramatic reversal of fortunes for the visiting captain who had plundered an unbeaten 241 in his side’s win over Yorkshire at Lord’s earlier in the season.
Patterson soon replaced Jack Brooks in a shrewd move by Andrew Gale and his fourth delivery pinned Nick Gubbins lbw.
Sidebottom was even more lethal early in the afternoon and another almost unplayable delivery to Morgan found the edge, the first three batsmen to go all failing to making a run.
It would have been 11 for four if Bairstow had not spilled a sitter off Brooks which gave Malan a life that Yorkshire were left bitterly to regret and that indeed was the score when Paul Stirling squirted a low catch to Kane Williamson at third slip, Sidebottom now having claimed three wickets while conceding just 11 runs.
But once Sidebottom was rested and the clouds had moved back, Malan and Simpson brought about a remarkable change in fortunes with a 168-run stand in 43 overs which brought Middlesex right back into the game from a position in which the follow-on had not seemed impossible.
Malan was first to his 50 off 98 balls with 10 fours and Simpson followed from 92 deliveries by smacking Rashid over long on for a six to put alongside his seven other boundaries.
The fifth-wicket pair were still batting after tea and it took the return of Sidebottom for a blistering third spell to bring Yorkshire back into the game.
With his third ball he had Malan caught at second slip by Lyth for 78 from 150 balls but Simpson went on to complete a superb century from 140 balls with 15 fours and a six before Sidebottom dismissed Ollie Rayner lbw and had Toby Roland-Jones snapped up by Lyth.
Simpson was run out for 110 by Rashid’s throw to the wicket-keeper while attempting a second run to keep hold of the strike and Sidebottom claimed his seventh wicket and third of the spell when Murtagh edged to Williamson at third slip who parried the ball to Lyth.
The veteran left-armer had given his all in the searing heat and he withdrew from the attack without attempting to gain the last wicket which would have given him a career-best haul. That was gained by Rashid who had Finn driving to Williamson in the covers.
Yorkshire were soon in difficulties themselves as Lyth edged Murtagh into the slips but Alex Lees and Williamson held firm.