Rob Yates showing plenty of promise for Warwickshire and beyond

Rob Yates pulls behind square Getty Images

Warwickshire 271 for 7 (Yates 104, Burgess 65*) vs Worcestershire

It's been a long time since Warwickshire produced an opening batter with the potential to play Test cricket for England, but in Rob Yates they may just have done so.

It's probably unwise and almost certainly unfair to set such expectations for Yates. He's just 21, after all, and has more than a year left at university. Indeed, with rain forecast for the weekend, he is planning on bringing his laptop to the ground over the weekend to catch-up in his studies. He still hasn't finished that essay about gorillas' body language; a case of gorillas in the missed deadline, perhaps?

But so assured does he look, so crisp is his strokeplay, that it is hard not to become excited by his potential. Opening the batting in England at this time of year is a demanding business: the combination of Duke's balls and fresh pitches testing the technique of anyone who has tried to do the job.

But here, in compiling a second century in successive innings at Edgbaston, Yates demonstrated not only the patience and judgement which have been hallmarks of his contributions so far, but a range of shots that could keep bowlers up at night.

Worcestershire's bowlers, it has to be said, played their part. Certainly before lunch, they fed Yates with over-pitched deliveries which he delighted in drilling back past them. Allowing Warwickshire to score 95 in the session seemed like a missed opportunity. But later, when they tested him with the short ball, he looked equally accomplished on the pull. He is the only man in the side to have reached 75 this season. He is quickly emerging as one of this team's senior batters.

There will be sterner tests. He is yet to be challenged on a really quick or sharply turning track. But in making a fourth-innings, match-winning century against Essex - Simon Harmer et al - and following it up with this effort, he has marked himself out as one to watch. Lions tours were designed for such players.

Warwickshire haven't produced too many batsmen in the last few years. Indeed, in the last 13 years, only three of their academy products (Chris Woakes, Henry Brookes and Ateeq Javed) have gone on to play 50 or more first team games for the club. The last time they produced a capped batsman was Ian Westwood, who retired in 2017. Even further back and among openers, Andy Lloyd was a Shropshire lad, while Mark Wagh, who really was good enough to have played Test cricket, spent as much of his career at No. 3 as opening. You may have to go back as far as Dennis Amiss to find a home-grown opener with this potential. And given that Amiss is one of the two best batters the club has produced since the Second World War, that is quite a claim.

"That century against Essex gave me some belief," Yates said. "I know as an opening batsman I'll fail more often than I succeed, but I feel in good rhythm at present. This is just the start, though. There's a long season ahead."

Dan Mousley (pronounced Moseley, like the suburb of Birmingham) is another young academy graduate who looks to have what it takes to enjoy a sustained professional career. After a fallow spell, that academy appears to be producing once more.

Warwickshire will be relieved by Michael Burgess' contribution, too. With Tim Ambrose having retired, they don't have another keeper on their staff. The 18-year-old Vikai Kelly, who played one T20 match in the first team last year, is not keeping for the seconds at present as the club give a trial to Dan Lincoln, who has played a handful of T20s for Middlesex. Burgess came into this match averaging 15.20 in the Championship season but added 70 with Yates and had produced his highest first-class innings for the club by stumps.

Worcestershire will, once again, rue some errors in the field. Pieter Malan, on debut having replaced Hanuma Vihari as overseas player, was put down on 10 by Daryl Mitchell at second slip, while Burgess was missed, on 41, by Riki Wessels, also at slip. Ed Barnard was the unfortunate bowler on both occasions. Later Danny Briggs was dropped, again at slip by Wessels, from his first delivery. Josh Tongue, who improved throughout the day, was the unlucky bowler. The catching in the cordon also cost Worcestershire in their previous game against Essex.

Barnard did, at least, win some reward when Malan left one which nipped back and Tim Bresnan edged a good one which left him. And with Brett D'Oliveira, fulfilling the role of single spinner better than most could have asked, bowling with excellent control, Worcestershire gradually pulled their way back into the match. D'Oliveira bowled Sam Hain, attempting to sweep, around his legs, before Yates feathered an edge to the keeper as he attempted to guide one to backward point. For a legspinner to concede less than two an over in conditions offering him nothing was a commendable effort.

Worcestershire made three changes. Charlie Morris and Dillon Pennington, who have had a heavy workload in the last few weeks, were replaced by Joe Leach and Tongue, while Jack Haynes came in for Gareth Roderick, who has looked low on confidence. Leach was the most consistent of the seamers throughout the day and, with three wickets in the final session, could feel confident his side were back in the game.

"If we are honest, we were poor in the first session," Worcestershire captain Leach said afterwards. "There was a little bit of help in the wicket but we just didn't capitalise on it. Brett's performance was again outstanding on a wicket that hasn't helped him. But as a seam-bowling group, we probably haven't been at our best."

Warwickshire 3rd innings Partnerships

1st5WMH RhodesRM Yates
2nd39PJ MalanWMH Rhodes
3rd19SR HainWMH Rhodes
4th7SR HainMJ Lamb

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