Yorkshire are left indebted to Andrew Hodd and Azeem Rafiq
THE day was sunny and very warm, made bearable by a cooling breeze blowing from the Trafalgar Square end.
Thunder flies clung to the skin until they were swept away with sweaty hands or else flicked off – Subbuteo-like – with sticky fingers.
Spectators sat in shirt-sleeves and sun hats, occasionally raising a drink to their lips or slurping at ice creams, while seagulls squawked and circled the ground, looking for remnants of discarded food.
For much of the long and lazy afternoon, the pin-striped deckchairs in front of the West Stand marquee were vacant as important people enjoyed an extended lunch, occasionally popping their heads outside to check the scoreboard on the popular bank.
All the sights and sounds of Scarborough were present for the start of the 130th Festival, just as they have always been, and the cricket itself was of compelling character.
After half-an-hour’s play, Yorkshire were 21-0 after Notts, the bottom club, took up the right of the visiting side to field first.
Half-an-hour before lunch, Yorkshire, the second-placed club, had sunk to 51-6 after insipid batting and inspired work from medium-pacer Steven Mullaney had nipped out three of the wickets and effected a run-out.
A seventh-wicket stand of 132 in 34 overs between Andrew Hodd (96no) and Azeem Rafiq (74) stopped the bleeding, and even inspired a recovery back to rude health as both made their highest scores of the season, Hodd also making his highest score for Yorkshire.
The wicketkeeper deserved a century, but was left stranded when the hosts were dismissed for 282 deep into the evening session, Notts reaching stumps on 38-2.
On a day when 4,979 spectators gathered in glorious sunshine, it was pertinent to ponder initially who was not playing as much as who was.
Yorkshire were without Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and David Willey due to international calls, while captain Andrew Gale failed a fitness test on a sore back, with Gary Ballance leading the club for the first time in the Championship.
Gale, who has struggled for runs, therefore missed out at a ground where he has scored 1,372 of them in 19 first-class games at 49, including a career-best 272 when these sides last met in the Championship here in 2013.
For their part, Notts were without pace bowlers Stuart Broad (ankle), Jake Ball (international duty) and Harry Gurney (hip), with the visitors handing a debut to 19-year-old batsman Tom Moores, son of former England head coach Peter Moores, the Notts’ coaching consultant.
Despite their depleted bowling resources, Notts could hardly have wished for a better morning session.
There was a strong element of luck about the first wicket, Adam Lyth run-out at the non-striker’s end when Mullaney deflected a drive from Alex Lees on to the stumps.
But there was nothing fortuitous thereafter as Lees pushed at one from Mullaney and was caught at third slip, Jake Lehmann was caught at second slip driving at Mullaney, and Ballance went lbw to Luke Fletcher playing across his pads.
When Tim Bresnan padded up to Mullaney and Jack Leaning followed a wide delivery from Brett Hutton and was caught at third slip, Yorkshire were 51-6 and in disarray.
But Hodd and Rafiq added 46 in seven overs before lunch, and then they frustrated the visitors in the afternoon, Notts failing to build on their earlier good work.
Rafiq, who has a first-class hundred to his name, gradually grew in confidence to the extent that he contemptuously thumped Hutton for four over mid-on towards the Peasholm Park end.
When he chipped the next ball for four just over a leaping Fletcher at mid-on, Rafiq had his third first-class fifty from 75 balls with eight boundaries, a fitting way to mark a day when he was officially re-presented with his county cap – along with Leaning – by the Yorkshire president, John Hampshire.
It took an apparently controversial decision from Neil Mallender to send him on his way, the umpire adjudging him lbw to Samit Patel, a wicket swiftly followed by that of Steve Patterson, who went lbw to Imran Tahir.
Hodd breezed past his previous best for Yorkshire of 68 not out against Somerset at Taunton three years ago, and he added 88 for the ninth-wicket in 21 overs with Jack Brooks, who contributed 48 from 66 balls with seven fours and a six, Brooks chopping on to Hutton.
When Ryan Sidebottom was lbw to Hutton nine balls later, Hodd was left agonisingly short of a fifth first-class hundred, having faced 185 balls and struck 10 fours.
Notts lost a wicket to the seventh ball of their reply when Brooks pinned Jake Libby lbw, and they would have been 1-2 had Leaning taken a low chance at third slip offered by Moores off Sidebottom.
But Bresnan had Moores caught at second slip by Lyth in the final over as Yorkshire completed a fine fightback.
Scoreboard: Page 22.