Jack Leaning may not yet be a household name, but the latest model off the Yorkshire Academy production line proved extremely effective at frustrating Somerset’s bowlers at Taunton today, just as they were starting to make inroads into the visitors’ batting line-up.
Leaning held up Somerset’s progress for five and a half long hours, sharing first in a partnership worth 93 with Jonny Bairstow after Somerset had removed the top three for 118. Then, more tellingly, when Somerset might have thought they had broken through to Yorkshire’s lower order, he was joined by Tim Bresnan in a stand of 117 for the seventh wicket.
Eventually dismissed in the penultimate over of the day, Leaning faced 243 balls and hit 18 fours during the course of a fine knock of 123. It was a commanding innings which ensured the day ended in Yorkshire’s favour, despite a couple of late wickets for Somerset.
Leaning had made the most of a decent run in the side this season, with Bairstow, Adam Lyth and Joe Root all away at various times with England. He scored his debut century against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge last month and then made 82 and 43* in the game with Hampshire at Headingley two weeks ago. He has probably sealed his place in the first XI for the rest of the summer.
Yorkshire opened today with Alex Lees and another young Academy player Will Rhodes, who put on 55 together in 13 overs before Pete Trego trapped Lees lbw for 34. Trego made runs very hard to come by and in his first spell sent down seven overs, four of which were maidens and took 1-7.
Rhodes was next to go, fending a ball from Jamie Overton off his hip to leg-gully, where he was well caught by Tom Cooper diving to his left for 28 and the visitors were 79-2 at the end of the 27th over.
Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale joined Leaning and the pair brought the 100 up after lunch before Gale became Trego’s second victim of the day, caught by Allenby at first slip after Trescothick at second had knocked the ball into the air with the score on 118.
Bairstow, who went on England’s Test tour of the Caribbean without getting a game, was the next man in and played an aggressive innings, hitting nine fours in an innings of exactly 50 off 59 balls – including four boundaries off one over from Trego – as he and Leaning added 93 to bring up Yorkshire’s 200.
His luck ran out though, when he was caught by Trescothick at second slip after playing back to give Craig Overton his first wicket of the day the very next ball after reaching his half-century. Two balls later, Overton struck again, removing big-hitting Australian Glenn Maxwell as he was caught by Tom Abell at cover without scoring with the score 211-5.
The sixth wicket fell eight overs later when Adil Rashid, who like Bairstow had been part of England’s tour party to the West Indies, was bowled by Alfonso Thomas for 9 and Yorkshire were 225-6.
Those who wondered whether the champion county would struggle with several players away on England duty this summer had overlooked Yorkshire’s strength in depth as the young Leaning, playing only his 19th first-class game, was joined by the veteran England all-rounder Tim Bresnan.
Together the pair scored at 4.4 runs an over in 26.3 overs at the crease, Bresnan blasting seven fours and a six in an unbeaten 54 off 76 balls. They took Yorkshire past 300 to record their third batting bonus point and were in sight of a fourth when Leaning eventually perished, bowled by Trego, who finished with figures of 3-46.
Somerset struck two balls later as Thomas had Liam Plunkett lbw without scoring and ended the day at 343-8. Picking up Bresnan early in the morning before he can inflict any further blows will be key if Somerset are to target a first-innings lead of any size.
Earlier Somerset left Tim Groenewald and Abdur Rehman out of their final XI, with Jamie Overton returning alongside brother Craig for the first time this season. Alfonso Thomas also came back in the side in place of Groenewald. As we reported on The Incider this morning, Director of Cricket Matt Maynard is sticking to his policy of rotating his bowlers to keep them fresh throughout the season. That meant that Lewis Gregory, Somerset’s leading first-class wicket taker this season, was left out of the squad altogether for this match.
Afterwards Trego said: “We knew that after the opening spell that it was going to be an attritional wicket and my job was going to be to bowl dry and not go searching for wickets.
“I was lucky to strike early which gives you a little bit of confidence but as very often happens in the attack my role is to contain, but I was delighted to nip a few out as well.
“My last wicket near the end of the day was my least celebrated because I was feeling a little bit grumpy at the time.”
Summing up the all-rounder said: “I thought that we had a great day as a team other than the partnership of 100 runs which was disappointing, because we maybe could have stepped on them a little bit there. If they had been all out sub 350 that would have been a phenomenal day, but as it stands they probably scored a few too many runs unfortunately.
“All of our bowlers are in good form and when Craig O took his two wickets in three balls they went from 211 for three to 211 for five and at 250ish for six we were in a prime position. However I thought we let it slip a little bit in that last hour of the day but picking up two wickets at the end papers that over.”