Yorkshire close to the edge as Worcestershire's Moeen Ali piles on the misery at Scarborough
NOT LONG into the evening session an old boy sauntered across the outfield without so much as a care in the world.
“Gerroff the pitch,” shouted the patrons at the Peasholm Park end, among more colourful and forceful observations.
The old boy came from the direction of the West Stand and was walking in the cow corner region of the field as the Worcestershire captain Moeen Ali was preparing to bowl to Yorkshire’s Kane Williamson.
Moeen stopped while the old man staggered to the right side of the boundary rope, magnificently oblivious as to what the fuss was all about, before the game resumed after a two-minute delay.
It was a light-hearted moment on the third day of the 132nd Scarborough Festival, as light-hearted a moment, perhaps, as any in the festival’s long and proud history.
But this game has been no laughing matter for Yorkshire and their supporters, who have needed all the humour they can possibly get.
Going into the final day Yorkshire are 140-6 in their second innings, trailing by 216, after the First Division’s bottom county made 572-7 declared in response to their own first innings 216.
A betting man might well have envisaged a mirror-image outcome leading into the match, but it is Yorkshire who have looked like they are propping up the rest.
The star of the show on Tuesday was not the wandering old man, who may or may not have partaken of too much liquid in the Scarborough sunshine, but Moeen, who enjoyed himself with a wonderful performance.
First he turned his overnight 107 into 219, the highest score by a visiting player in the County Championship at Scarborough, eclipsing the 203 by Northamptonshire’s Geoff Cook in 1988, and then, in 18 overs of off-spin, he took four of the wickets – Adam Lyth lbw, Harry Brook caught at mid-on as he tried to go over the top, Gary Ballance caught at second slip and Tom Kohler-Cadmore lbw shouldering arms.
So much of a one-man show was it, in fact, that Moeen could probably have rolled the square, cut the outfield, driven the team bus to the ground and cooked the players’ lunches, had he so desired.
As talk swirls of a possible Test recall, how Yorkshire must wish that England had whisked him away for this week’s match at Trent Bridge as opposed to next week’s game at the Ageas Bowl, for which he must surely come into serious consideration.
While Moeen waits on his international fate his immediate concern is trying to help Worcestershire in their quest to beat the drop, which would be significantly enhanced by victory here.
Yorkshire are overwhelmingly odds-on to suffer their fourth Championship defeat of the season, particularly after Williamson fell just before stumps, caught behind for 61 as he tried to uppercut a wide delivery from Wayne Parnell, a dismissal closely followed by that of Tim Bresnan, who flashed the same bowler to second slip.
Yorkshire’s predicament was already dire going into the day, with Worcestershire’s score standing at 310-1 and Daryl Mitchell unbeaten on 140 alongside Moeen.
Their stand, already worth 199, soon went past Worcestershire’s previous second-wicket best against Yorkshire of 231 by Glenn Turner and Phil Neale at New Road in 1981. Mitchell cut Matt Fisher for four to reach his 150 from 299 balls with 19 fours, while Moeen cover-drove Yorkshire captain David Willey to get himself going.
Gradually Moeen began to up the ante, hooking Jack Brooks to the boundary before depositing Bresnan over long-off and into the pavilion. He reached his 150 from 211 balls – his third fifty taking just 51 deliveries – and then lofted Lyth down the ground to raise the 400 and maximum batting points.
Yorkshire, who did not take a single bowling point, eventually got rid of Mitchell with the score on 405, caught at slip by Bresnan as he tried to cut Lyth, the opener making 178 from 333 balls.
Moeen, whose stand with Mitchell was worth 294 in 75 overs, had reached 190 at lunch, by which time the score was 479-3. He wasted no time afterwards in reaching his double hundred, lofting Josh Poysden for six before clubbing the leg-spinner’s next ball for four to the long-off boundary.
Eyeing even more quick runs, Moeen perished with the total on 522, slicing Bresnan to Brook at point having faced 277 balls and struck 27 fours and four sixes.
He eclipsed Yorkshire’s first innings score off his own bat.
Poysden cashed in with three wickets at the finish, trapping Ben Cox lbw and then having Ross Whiteley caught behind the wicket by Bresnan running back from slip and Ed Barnard skying to Fisher at deep mid-wicket.
Worcestershire’s score was the fifth-highest achieved in the Championship at Scarborough, and their highest against Yorkshire on any ground.