A sad and soggy end to an ill-starred Roses contest


Play abandoned on fourth day after serious injury mars rain-doomed contest

Yorkshire drew with Lancashire 411 for 2 (Jennings 102, Wells 97*, Davies 84, Bohannon 74*

Perhaps we should have realised on Tuesday evening that the Roses match would end not with the two counties contesting a tightly-fought battle for valuable bonus points but with former players, now respected officials, agreeing that Monday’s twelve-hour downpour had saturated the Emerald Stand End to such an extent that further play would be hazardous.

And so the most interesting sight at Headingley on Wednesday morning was that of two umpires, two coaches, two skippers and a match referee holding a long socially distanced conference. The inevitable announcement was made at ten o’clock, just before most spectators were due to arrive and see nothing whatsoever happening. (The consolation for ticket-holders is that they are to receive a full refund for the price of their tickets on both Tuesday and Wednesday.)

There was at least qualified good news about Dominic Leech, whose horrific collision with the concrete base of the Western Terrace at 2.15 on Tuesday afternoon seems to have finally convinced the umpires that the players should be taken off the field. The 20-year-old has dislocated a joint at the side of his knee but an X-ray showed no broken bones and Leech will have an MRI scan today before seeing a specialist on Thursday. The highly-rated young bowler was at Headingley on this final day and will be forgiven if he never again regards the Western Terrace with quite the fondness felt by most Yorkshiremen.

The link between the accident and the umpires’ decision remains a little mysterious. Reports on Wednesday suggested the area where he slipped was quite dry and that the accident could therefore hardly be linked to the condition of the outfield in the shadow of the Emerald Stand, where damp patches had been made even wetter by the repeated impact of bowlers’ boots on the same spots.

But no criticism should be attached to the umpires, Ian Gould and Nigel Llong, who are two of the most respected officials on the circuit. Both men had been increasingly concerned about the condition of the outfield at that end of the ground and they can hardly be criticised if Leech’s dreadful misfortune had offered a graphic illustration of the risks all cricketers run when playing in stadia with stands a few yards from the boundary rope. Which of us would not be spooked a little by such an event? Ultimately Gould and Llong did the right thing.

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