Lehmann’s century is not enough to save Yorkshire

Jake Lehmann sweeps Somerset's spinner Micheal Leach away.
Jake Lehmann sweeps Somerset's spinner Micheal Leach away.

“WHAT a day,” tweeted Darren Lehmann as he celebrated news of his son, Jake’s, first hundred for Yorkshire.

The Australia coach, monitoring events from afar, was understandably as proud as punch.

Lehmann senior experienced the elation of reaching three figures for Yorkshire on 26 occasions in first-class cricket.

His boy can play too, producing an innings yesterday that was every bit a chip off the old block.

Many of Darren Lehmann’s finest displays were fashioned in crisis, and Jake certainly walked into one when Yorkshire were 37-3 on the second evening, 208 behind on second innings.

He scored 116 before his dismissal left Yorkshire 263-8, and effectively ended their long-shot chances of winning the game.

The champions were dismissed for 286, leaving Somerset 42 for victory, which they duly achieved by 10 wickets with 8.3 overs left on day three.

Defeat was Yorkshire’s sixth in 79 County Championship games under first-team coach Jason Gillespie, who departs after next week’s final match of the season against Middlesex at Lord’s.

More importantly, it was a big blow to their hopes of farewelling the Australian with a third successive Championship.

If Middlesex beat Lancashire at Old Trafford today, where they lead by 140 with six second innings wickets intact, the leaders would need only four points from their game against Yorkshire to take the title.

A draw for Middlesex today would leave Yorkshire nine points behind, but still needing to beat them at Lord’s to claim the Championship – provided that Somerset do not gain one more point than Yorkshire manage in the final round.

A Lancashire win today, meanwhile, would leave Middlesex four points ahead.

Complicated? You bet.

But the bottom line is that Yorkshire, one week after producing their best performance of the season in thrashing Durham, followed it with their worst to slump to their first Championship defeat at Headingley since April 2013, unable to recover from a poor first-innings 145.

“We had great belief that we could turn it round and get the win, but it wasn’t to be,” said Lehmann, who will not play against Middlesex after being recalled early by South Australia.

“It was really nice to get a hundred, but it would have been nice to get a hundred on the winning side. It’s a bit disappointing that I have to go back, but I’ve got to go and play a couple of white-ball games.

“But I’ve really enjoyed my time at Yorkshire, and it’s a great club which means a lot to my family.”

The murky skies above Headingley yesterday seemed a fitting backdrop for a Yorkshire team who resumed 188 runs adrift.

Lehmann and Adam Lyth fought hard in the opening 45 minutes to extend their fourth-wicket stand to 62 before Lyth was strangled down the leg-side off Craig Overton, one short of fifty. Lehmann and Adil Rashid threatened a useful stand before the latter was lured down the track by left-arm spinner Jack Leach and stumped in a failed attempt to smother the ball.

Lehmann passed fifty for the third consecutive match when he drove Jim Allenby to the mid-off boundary, but the 24-year-old had a life on 60 when he pushed Leach firmly to short-leg, where Tom Abell was unable to grasp a sharp chance.

Tim Bresnan was bowled by Leach in the third over after lunch, having hit four from 51 balls with one scoring shot, and the spinner followed that with the wicket of Andrew Hodd, well caught this time by Abell at short-leg, one-handed to his left.

At that stage, Yorkshire were still 83 adrift, but Lehmann and Liam Plunkett added 101 for the eighth wicket before Lehmann was trapped lbw to Leach.

Leach claimed his fifth victim when he caught-and-bowled Jack Brooks, who was trying to turn him to leg, and then his sixth as Plunkett swiped him to slip.

It was a valiant effort from Plunkett, who hit 73 from 121 balls with seven fours and two sixes.

Marcus Trescothick and Tom Abell knocked off the target inside 11 overs as Gillespie’s final home match ended in defeat. The electronic scoreboard flashed up the consoling words “Thank you Dizzy!” in recognition of the Australian’s outstanding contribution to Yorkshire cricket.