Alastair Cook was once again denied significant time in the middle as he prepared for next month’s Test series against West Indies with a second single-figure score as Yorkshire went on to wrap up a convincing nine-wicket win inside three days over MCC in the traditional season opener in Abu Dhabi.
The Caribbean-bound leg-spinner Adil Rashid claimed four wickets for 72, with three for 22 from the seamer Jack Brooks, as MCC were all out for 220 in the space of 76.5 overs. The county champions then cruised to their target of 70 in 75 minutes courtesy of Adam Lyth’s unbeaten 46.
Cook, who lasted six balls in the first innings and is without a century in any form of cricket since April last year, had five runs to his name when he pulled Brooks to midwicket. The shot was on but the connection was duffed as the left-hander toe-ended the ball straight into Rashid’s midriff. The England captain has managed just under an hour at the crease here in the desert.
That initial breakthrough was well-earned for Brooks, the leading English wicket-taker with 68 in Division One last season, who was convinced he had trapped Cook in front late on the second day. The right-armer bowled with good pace and offered little width as he added Zafar Ansari, bowled for 15, and Sam Billings, caught behind on 26, to finish with five for the match.
“It was probably the worst ball I bowled, to be honest,” Brooks said about his dismissal of Cook. “It’s a shame because you want to see the England captain in form but I think we’ve bowled well here and he hasn’t been able to get going. That is testament to us and the way we play our cricket. The boys have been fantastic and we kept our foot on their necks when on top.”
The MCC captain, Nick Compton, suffered the indignity of falling to the first ball of the English season on Sunday but he atoned second time round with a typically stubborn 74 from 139 balls. The right-hander’s dismissal, caught behind, capped a promising first-class debut for the all-rounder Will Rhodes, with three wickets and 61 runs in one knock. The talk among the management here is that the left-hander will begin the summer as an opener in the absence of the West Indies-bound Lyth.
Rashid, who last played for England in 2009, did his chances of a Test debut in Antigua on 13 April no harm with control and variation on a pitch that offered turn. The 27-year-old trapped Daryl Mitchell for nine and James Hildreth one short of his half-century – both lbw – before returning to mop up the innings with two wickets in two balls.
“It felt nice to mix it up and be attacking,” said Rashid, who took 46 Championship wickets last summer and admits six in this match may have helped impress the Test captain. “I think the first time I was in the England set-up I was a bit immature but I know my game and my action now, so hopefully I can carry that on into the Caribbean.”
Lyth, fresh from making a case to open alongside Cook with a 15th first-class century on day two, also hinted at his usefulness as a part-time off-spinner when he teased the edge of Michael Carberry’s bat on 23, held at slip by Tim Bresnan, to register one for 29 from his 10 overs.
Back in the day job he then marshalled Yorkshire’s chase under lights with minimal fuss, completing the job with a driven four through extra-cover off the bowling of Adam Riley. The one hiccup came in the loss of his opening partner Alex Lees, caught behind when charging the Kent off-spinner. The left-hander did not do his talent justice in this match, with just 19 runs, but will have savoured a maiden first-class victory as a Yorkshire captain.
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