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Cricket: Bouncer guard as Bingo goes back to Yorks.

Byline: Mike WALTERS

ARGUABLY the most controversial cross-Pennine defector since Eric Cantona, a man nicknamed 'Bingo' emerged a winner yesterday.

Former Yorkshire captain David Byas was heckled by a vocal minority on his return to Headingley and ushered back to the dressing room by seven bouncers.

But if Byas was expecting a hostile reception to match the outcry which greeted Cantona's switch from Leeds to Manchester United, he has probably had a rougher ride at milking time from the cows on his dairy farm.

To his evident surprise, the old team-mates Byas led to Yorkshire's first county championship triumph in 33 years last summer curled up their toes.

Bowled out on a beastly pitch for 81, their lowest Benson and Hedges Cup total, the Tykes were dealt a record-breaking Roses thrashing as Lancashire romped home by eight wickets with 39.1 overs to spare. Complacent and slovenly, Yorkshire put down four catches, including Anthony McGrath spilling Byas at second slip when he had scored just a single, as the infidels from Old Trafford who coerced him out of a short retirement last winter scraped into the quarter-finals.

'Bingo', unbeaten on three when Mark Chilton delivered the winning hit at 2.14pm, would not have tolerated such sloppiness when he was in charge at Headingley, not that he cared a jot about Yorkshire's sloppiness last night.

"I've no sympathy for them," he said before heading back to his urns, churns and tractors near Driffield.

"We came here to take the points, and it's mission accomplished. Any concerns beyond our dressing room are down to them, not us."

Asked whether he could remember a performance as negligent as this feckless Yorkshire capitulation during his captaincy, the glint in Byas's eye spoke volumes.

The Tykes, who had already qualified for the competition's knockout phase, never recovered after losing three wickets in 10 balls - including England's Michael Vaughan and Craig White - on a green pitch cracked like crazy paving.

Then Byas, back-pedalling furiously from slip, took a superb catch to dismiss Gary Fellows and Test all-rounder Andrew Flintoff mopped up the middle order with 4-11 in 7.2 overs.

By the time 38-year-old Byas walked out to bat, when the heckling minority were eventually drowned out by sustained applause from Yorkshire's less bigoted membership, Lancashire only needed nine runs to win.

With the injured Darren Gough, with whom Byas had a frank exchange of views last season, unable to welcome his back his former captain, the last rites were relatively tame.

Cantona's return to Elland Road it was not.

All that was left for Byas was to return to his herd and find out that Lancashire had squeezed into the last eight at Kent's and Notts' expense.

He said: "That was an emphatic win, I've had a pretty warm reception and we've had a thoroughly enjoyable day. I was a bit nervous before my first ball, but you need to get a good start against this lot and I can go back to the farm with a smile on my face.

"There was a bit of banter out there and, as for my reception, you are going to get the odd jackal - but that's Headingley for you."

When the mismatch was over, Byas shook hands warmly with his old colleagues, although Gough had departed Ice Station Headingley after his first bowl in the nets at full throttle since knee surgery in March.

'Dazzler' is still hoping to prove his fitness in time to make England's first Test squad against Sri Lanka at Lord's next week, but it is touch-and-go whether he will make it.

Gough said: "But I'll only know whether I'm going to be fit for the Test after the next couple of days. It depends whether there is any reaction overnight."

CAPTION(S):

SPECIAL MOMENT: David Byas walks to the crease at Headingley with stewards on hand just in case; ALL PALS: Byas at end of play
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 7, 2002
Words:655
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