Yorkshire's County Championship game against Lancashire ended in a draw after a strange call from the visitors on the final day of the match. Needing 367 to win in 71 overs, Yorkshire were cruising at 188/0 but decided to shake hands and let the game end in a draw instead of going for the win.
After being bowled out for 360 in response to Lancashire's 494 in the first innings, the reigning County Champions were already behind in the match. And after the hosts added 162 runs in 23 overs in the morning session to declare on 232/3, they set the visitors a target of 367 to win in 71 overs to win the game.
Although the required run rate was in excess of 5 at the start of the innings, it wasn't impossible. More so, after both openers Adam Lyth and Alex Lees had started brightly and added 148/0 at tea. However, with the score at 188/0 after 52 overs and Lees batting on an unbeaten century and Lyth on 63* and needing 179 runs to win off 19 overs, the visitors decided to settle for a draw.
Although the required rate at tea was 7.3 and was edhing closer to what is usually scored in a T20 game, Yorkshire's decision was puzzling to say the least as a win would have moved them closer to Middlesex, who are top of the Division 1 table.
Why Yorkshire decided to take the draw
Speaking about the decision Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie said: "Chasing was in the back of our minds. We thought we'd assess at tea, which we did. We thought 'let's keeping batting and we'll get feedback from Lythy and Leesy”
"They are the two lads who were out there. Their feedback was that with the deteriorating pitch, it would be a big challenge for them to go for it, let alone a new batter coming in. If it was 40 or 50 fewer runs, absolutely we'd have had a crack,” he added.
"There were a couple of those moments where we thought 'come on, we can do this'. Leesy and Lythy are always very much if push comes to shove, they want to take the attacking option. But both their feedback was the same. They felt that the pitch was deteriorating.”
Lancashire's director of cricket, Ashley Giles admitted he was "a little bit nervous on the balcony". He said: "When they got to that position with none down we perhaps thought they might have gone on a little bit longer. But that's their decision and nothing to do with us. We are happy to come out if it with a strong draw against a very good team."
While it is true that it was a fourth day wicket and rules in first-class cricket means fields can be spread and bowlers can bowl wider and shorter if they want to, the fact that more than 300 runs were scored on day four suggests it wasn't a minefield by any stretch of the imagination and that is why Yorkshire's decision seems all the more surprising.
Earlier in the day, Haseeb Hameed made history by becoming the youngest batsman in the history of English first-class cricket to score two centuries in a match. His twin centuries also helped him become Lancashire's youngest player to score 1,000 runs in a Championship season.Published 17 Aug 2016, 08:20 IST