County round-up: Pyrah plays Botham role 30 years to day
The challenge for the writer here was to resist making any strained references to Headingley 1981 on the 30th anniversary of one of Test cricket's most remarkable comebacks but Yorkshire made it impossible. Moreover, no contrivance was necessary.
Soon after lunch, having put up a display of batting remarkable only for its feebleness in reply to Lancashire's 328, they were 45-8. Five of the wickets had fallen to the seamer Kyle Hogg, who twice took wickets with consecutive deliveries. The ball swung and seamed but Yorkshire did not help themselves by being pretty careless.
But then – you've guessed it – there occurred a remarkable comeback. In the Ian Botham role was Rich Pyrah, an all-rounder from Ossett who had been seen largely as a one-day player until the last couple of seasons. Reprising Graham Dilley's support act, spookily, a fast bowler batting left-handed: Ryan Sidebottom.
For a while, you suspected it was nothing more than a flurry of defiance but the boundaries kept coming. Pyrah did not have a Championship century to his name and Sidebottom only a couple of fifties. Yet when Pyrah completed his half-century by hooking Glen Chapple over long leg for his second six, they had added 94 in 14 overs.
Pyrah could feel a sense of anticipation in the crowd and rose to it. When he pulled Hogg for his third six, it took Yorkshire past the target to avoid the follow-on, which was incredible, but more was to come.
Sidebottom completed his half-century and when Chapple finally took his wicket, Sidebottom left the field to cheers, of which more were reserved for Pyrah later. The partnership, worth 154 in 30 overs, was the biggest for the ninth wicket in any first-class match on this ground.
It had gone on long enough, moreover, for Tim Bresnan to arrive on the ground after his dash from Lord's and to freshen up and don the pads. Pyrah, who had passed his previous best in the competition when he reached 88, by then needed just three more runs for his maiden Championship century and, with Bresnan at the other end, duly made it from his 91st ball faced.
Lancashire's lead once Pyrah fell for 117 was 89, still a good one but small enough to make a close match a possibility. And Yorkshire had momentum now. Bresnan removed both Lancashire openers in his first three overs and when Ajmal Shahzad brought the day to a close by dismissing Karl Brown via an edge to the keeper, it felt like it was Yorkshire's day.
"It was a special day to score my first hundred," Pyrah said. "You are never really in on this track but Ryan and I just set out to be positive. We have the momentum and if we can get among the wickets, who knows?"
Elsewhere, Warwickshire gave further credence to their title bid by racking up 521 against Sussex after Lancashire-born bowler Keith Barker hit 118. Durham took a battering from Marcus Trescothick at Taunton, where the ex-England opener made 163 and Somerset topped 400.
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