There’s something quite intimidating sitting in the quiet press box in Yorkshire Carnegie’s Headingley Stadium. Being an air sealed auditorium, the atmosphere of the crowd never percolates properly into the ears of critical journalists.
You watch a match therefore in relative silence – all senses are muffled through the panoramic glass shield.
The intimidation doesn’t come from the lack of atmosphere however, or even the awkward silences between journalist small talk. No, the intimidation comes during conversation.
Stuff happened as the innings progressed. Other things didn’t.
I’m far from a cricket connoisseur. I know the rules and enjoy watching the game, and that’s about it. Therefore, when a fellow journalist asks me if Ryan Sidebottom should be opening the attack, I have to mumble a convoluted response, pretending to know what I’m talking about.
It’s much the same as when you’re abroad, and are asked by some Frenchman where the train station is. Cue the embarrassing clueless reply from yourself in embarrassed self-loathing English.
The silence of the press box makes it worse. The silence makes it embarrassing. Everyone hears it – there’s no drunken crowd to drown out my own sorrows.
However, when the cricket actually starts, the intimidation dies down as everyone turns their attention to the main attraction. Not that Yorkshire matches have been much of an attraction this season. Swilling around the middle of the t20 North Group, Carnegie are way off the pace of league leaders Notts.
Although, the opening three bowls offered a different perspective. Andrew Gale edged a lazy Darren Pattinson opener for four, which was followed by two wides in succession.
A change was of course in desperate need – Carnegie were romping away with it. In the second over however, Notts showed their magnificence with Joe Sayers swiping hurriedly at a Luke Fletcher delivery. The ball looked to flash past Ricky Wessels at mid off, but he arched left and snatch it out of the air. 10/1 after eight balls.
Well, what a little drama that was. Gale was soon on form, knocking Pattinson for a couple of fours and a six off one over. Quote from the press box: “this is some dreadful bowling”. Of course, I could only pretend to agree by chuckling and nodding my head.
Stuff happened as the innings progressed. Other things didn’t. Confusion leading to wickets. Poor bowls leading to boundaries. Only a short conversation in the press box between two stalwarts of the typewriter kept it interesting:
“What’s Gale’s highest score of the season?”
“67 I think,” was the reply.
“Well he’s on 62 now: looks good so far.”
The next delivery, Gale was bowled.
Yorkshire finished on 152/5, a reasonable total considering the slow middle overs. Gale’s half century and a 45-run partnership between final pair Jonathan Bairstow and Ajmal Shazad bunked up the score to something it really shouldn’t have been. Occasional sixes pleased the 4,900 strong crowd, but it was a slow innings.
Their runs per over said it all: a rollercoaster of a graph resembling a jump jockey’s gum line rather than a solid, consistent innings.
Notts on the other hand appeared to have no trouble with the bat, blasting off to a superb start of 17/0 off the first two overs, which was increased to 31/0 after four.
The first ever over of 26-year-old Iain Wardlaw suggested a decent acquisition for Carnegie. The right-hander hardly looked out of place in the bowling attack, conceding just 13 off his first three overs. Indeed, so soon has Wardlaw come into the side to replace Sidebottom, he still hasn’t been assigned a shirt number.
An important Adam Lyth catch from an arching Wessels effort gave YCCC vital hope as their opponents passed the century mark, and with eight overs remaining it seemed Notts would continue their purple patch that saw too many sixes in too few deliveries.
However, it was Wardlaw again who was to provide a stopper to the Outlaws push, forcing Tamim Iqbal to drive over the bowler’s head and into the hands of boundary-lurking Lyth, Iqbal out for 47.
The two wickets in quick succession was followed by Rafiq smashing the bails off Adam Voges’ wickets – and suddenly victory was in sight! With 14 balls remaining, Notts needed just 13 to win, it was all in the balance. However, two Richard Pyrah deliveries later sorted that out: a pair of massive Scott Elstone sixes smashed any chance of a Carnegie win there and then.
Indeed, Notts finished on a final boundary, 156/4: Elstone 26 of 15 balls. Despite Wardlaw’s strong debut, the lack of a bowling threat in the opening overs was truly Yorkshire’s undoing.
Of course, I didn’t mention this to any of the other journalists. They know what they’re talking about.