Yorkshire 292 for 7 (Hodd 84, Kohler-Cadmore 81, Davey 4-53) trail Somerset 399 (Azhar 89, Hildreth 81, Davies 80, Gregory 65, Brooks 5-116)
There may be no more heartwarming story this county season than this one involving Andrew Hodd – the player who imagined he might never play for Yorkshire again, but who found himself dashing 300 miles to answer an emergency call to arms and responded with one of the finest innings of his life.
For the story to end perfectly – and only the most uncompromising Somerset supporter would chide at the thought – Hodd would make another 16 runs when this match resumes at Headingley on the third morning, enough to bring him a fifth first-class century in a 16-year career. Nothing is certain: for one thing, Yorkshire’s tail, with seven down for 292, still 107 behind, might not necessarily stick around for the celebration.
Whatever his fate, the man who styled himself a “soft southerner” when he joined Yorkshire from Sussex, and who rediscovered his zest for the game under the coaching of Jason Gillespie has already enjoyed what might turn out to be a delightful last moment in the sun, an innings to relish, a confident, unbeaten 84 when his stroke was sure and his mind looked uncluttered. Impending retirement can sometimes relieve the pressure and make the game feel easy.
His sixth-wicket stand of 173 in 47 overs with Tom Kohler-Cadmore, whose 81 was his highest Yorkshire score (his stories are in the future), led Yorkshire from the perils of 119 for 5, the follow-on looming against a Somerset side who were extending their domination on the opening day. It would have been lovely to find out what Hodd made of it all. But Yorkshire, facing the threat of relegation, had no truck with romance and didn’t let him talk about it, presumably on the grounds his nnings was incomplete, Kohler-Cadmore offering up some routine platitudes instead. “Tough” decisions are not always the ones that county cricket’s put-upon followers deserve.
Sometimes making the break from a playing career can be a tortuous one. Ryan Sidebottom, Hodd’s former Yorkshire team-mate, has become the latest player to reflect this week on the depression that can ensue after retirement, talking on BBC Radio how self-esteem can be lost and how the player can feel they are letting everyone down. “It’s a very difficult time,” he said.
Hodd’s mid-season decision to call time on his Yorkshire career was by all accounts an emotional one. It is a fortunate player who approaches retirement with a certainty that the time is right. The games are about to end, the camaraderie will never quite be the same and, however much planning is made for the future, it can be a jolt. It is well worth a few tears.
But this was so much better than how he imagined it might end. His last Championship match was at Taunton in late April, a first-baller in the first innings, a single in the second. Then the Royal London Cup intervened, and Jonny Tattersall, encouraged to take up wicketkeeping by Yorkshire’s coach, Andrew Gale, held his place when the Championship resumed. Even his selection for the Seconds has been a rarity as Yorkshire look to the future.
How joyous it was therefore for Hodd to have at least one final match in the limelight – it is best to say “at least” because after playing like this he will not be easy to replace even if Tattersall recovers from his back spasm – and for him to take the opportunity with such relish.
One suspects that Hodd will make the transition into retirement more easily than most. He is a qualified electrician and a dab hand at most forms of DIY – he once broke off from plastering a wall at home in Halifax to answer a Yorkshire SOS. His nickname of the HoddFather would be more appropriate as the Hodd Carrier: certainly on this occasion, with Yorkshire’s foundations crumbling, he had become a repairer in times of need.
Yorkshire rounded up Somerset’s tail within eight overs on the second morning, but there was enough life in the surface for the follow-on figure of 250 to seem a 50:50 call. Adam Lyth’s disciplined 45 set them on their way, but he saw Harry Brook bowled off his pad by Lewis Gregory 13 balls into the innings and then Kane Williamson loop a simple catch to gully off Craig Overton.
Yorkshire then lost three wickets for eight runs to slip to 119 for 5. Lyth was superbly caught at second slip by the Grand Old Man, Marcus Trescothick; Gary Ballance was in good order until, on 37, he was picked off in front of square – seemingly a deliberate plan – by Craig Overton; and Jack Leaning chipped back a return catch off a leading edge.
The day then fell to Hodd and Kohler-Cadmore. Both men, with naturally attacking styles, played fluently on both sides of the wicket. Kohler-Cadmore welcomed Jack Leach’s left-arm spin with a six into the unfinished stand (one suspects Leach will be back for much more as the match progresses) and as Hodd suggested that his absence had been a restorative one, only Craig Overton limited his ambition. Just as Lewis Gregory and Steve Davies, had run unfettered in the final session on the opening day, so Hodd and Kohler-Cadmore did on the second before two late wickets for Josh Davey roused Somerset spirits.