In a domestic cricket season that resembles a computer hard drive in need of defragmenting, up pops a four-day Roses match to test Yorkshire's ability to remain focused on their title challenge. In the middle of a seven-week Twenty20 campaign, coach Martyn Moxon might have wondered what to expect.
He need not have been concerned. Moxon, a man not inclined towards reckless forecasting, believes Yorkshire are serious contenders and it appears to be a sound evaluation. Lancashire had the better of it before rain intervened at Headingley a month ago but so far this time the opposite is true.
At the close, having chosen to bat first on a flat, dry pitch, Yorkshire had claimed four more batting points for eight wickets lost, despite a batting line-up missing captain Andrew Gale, who will miss two Championship matches in order to play for England Lions in a triangular one-day tournament of tenuous value, and Joe Sayers, who pulled out after an asthma attack.
At the root of their dominance, again, was Adam Lyth, the left-hander who is enjoying a prolific season at the top of the order. Lyth struck 100 off 122 balls and celebrated in a manner you would expect from a committed Yorkshire cricketer. A century against Lancashire is a career milestone, after all. Given that he had been out for a second-ball duck at Headingley, where the weather denied him a second innings, it was no wonder he was happy.
That failure ended his chance to reach 1,000 first-class runs before the end of May, which looked on after a run of eight innings that had included seven of 84 runs or more, two centuries among them. He still may be the first to pass 1,000 for the season, although Mark Ramprakash – out for 99 yesterday –has his nose narrowly in front. The former England batsman has 959 to Lyth's 953.
Lyth, who has represented his country only at Under-19 level, must be close to a Lions call-up, at least. Disappointingly, he could not add to his hundred, glancing a ball from Tom Smith into wicketkeeper Luke Sutton's gloves.
Yorkshire thus lost their first wicket at 166 but continued to build. Jacques Rudolph reached 83 before following a lifting ball from Daren Powell to be caught at second slip and Anthony McGrath made 61 before playing on to the same bowler. Lancashire missed the pace and bounce of Sajid Mahmood, also seconded by the Lions, but fought back through Glen Chapple's burst of four wickets in 26 balls.Reuse content