Thanks to the vagaries of the fixture computer the two sides vying for the top spot in the LV= County Championship Division One table have yet to face each other this season. The first of two meetings between Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire begins at Headingley on Tuesday with the White Rose county just a point ahead, having played a game more.
There were differing fortunes for each side over the weekend, with Notts slipping to a heavy defeat against Somerset at Taunton, whilst Yorkshire travelled to Schiedam in the Netherlands on Sunday and gained a 5 wicket success in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition.
The two counties have met on 24 previous occasions at Yorkshire’s headquarters, where the hosts lead the head-to-head tussles by 10 wins to three. Another ten games have been drawn, whilst the scheduled clash in 1926 is officially classified as ‘abandoned’ as not a single ball was bowled over the 3 day duration.
Notts’ most recent win on the ground came in 2004, when centuries were hit in each innings. Kevin Pietersen made 167 in the first and David Hussey scored 125 in the second knock. ‘Huss’ was in the runs again – 117 – in the 2006 fixture, whilst Chris Read contributed 142 two years ago. That game was drawn with Jacques Rudolph reaching three figures for the opposition.
"Whatever happens over the forthcoming four days the title isn’t likely to be settled, one way or another, before the sides come face to face in the Trent Bridge return which begins on September 7th."
Other victories for the Robin Hood county have been of greatly differing margins. In 1923 Notts scraped home by just 3 runs. Set 162 to win Yorkshire were undone by Sam Staples, an off spinner who was good enough to make 3 Test appearances for England. Sam collected five wickets in each innings to claim a match haul of 10-82.
Another exceptional bowling performance inspired Notts to their other success in front of the Western Terrace spectators. In 1989 – a year in which he had been selected as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year – Franklyn Stephenson, the West Indian pace ace famed for his deceptively slower delivery, collected 13 wickets in the game to enable his side to pick off a 10-wicket triumph.
The previous year, 1988, Franklyn had reached the ‘double’ of 100 wickets and 1,000 first class runs in an English season – going to that particular landmark by hitting centuries in both innings against Yorkshire at Trent Bridge.
A year later it was his bowling that destroyed the Tykes with figures of 7-38 and 6-37. ‘Franky’s’ haul was more the remarkable as Notts had themselves responded to Yorkshire’s 92 all out by being dismissed for just 86 with Mick Newell, current Director of Cricket, top scoring with 32 not out. Another low score – 109 – was far from adequate as both Chris Broad and skipper Tim Robinson calmly collected a fifty apiece to guide Notts home.
Spectacular as Stephenson’s figures look, they pale a little when compared to those of Yorkshire’s Hedley Verity, an outstanding slow left arm bowler of the day who recorded second innings figures of 19.4-16-10-10, including a hat-trick, to dismiss Notts for just 67 in 1932.
Over the years the fixture has been kind to plenty of other great stars, notably Harold Larwood (5-73) and Arthur Jepson (5-50) with the ball for Nottinghamshire and Geoff Boycott (169) and Craig White (147) with the bat for Yorkshire.
Friends Provident t20 meetings this season didn’t give a pointer as to which side currently holds sway. Yorkshire won at Headingley, with Notts taking the return.
Whatever happens over the forthcoming four days the title isn’t likely to be settled, one way or another, before the sides come face to face in the Trent Bridge return which begins on September 7th.
Nevertheless, this match, quite rightly deserves it’s billing as the game of the season so far – let’s hope it lives up to expectations.
Dave Bracegirdle will provide ball-by-ball commentary from Headingley on behalf of BBC Radio Nottingham.