Yorkshire’s defence of their Championship title is looking solid, despite England’s insistence on depriving them of players. A third of the way into the season, they are in second place, level on points with Middlesex and 11 behind the new leaders, Durham, with a match in hand.
This was a match with ebbs and flows and one in which Middlesex, who arrived unbeaten as leaders, worked themselves into positions from which they might have won. Ultimately, though, Yorkshire always had one performance that gave them the edge, from Jack Brooks with the ball in the first innings, then Jonny Bairstow, whose brilliant 125 not out dragged Yorkshire from 95 for 6 to an unlikely first-innings lead, and Adam Lyth, who has become not only a batsman as attractive as any currently playing county cricket but one of the most consistent.
The left-hander, newly anointed as an international player, has scored at least 50 in 18 of his 37 first-class innings since the start of last season, half of which he has converted into hundreds. So it came as no surprise, after his early dismissal in the first innings, that he should come back with 67 in the second, having laid the foundation for a four-wicket win completed late in the evening, 10 balls into the extra half-hour, when a six struck over the head of James Harris by the Australian, Glenn Maxwell, achieved a target of 213.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” Yorkshire’s head coach, Jason Gillespie, said. “I know how hard Adam has worked and how much time and effort he has put into every part of his game.”
It had been Lyth who began the process of removing the six Middlesex wickets that Yorkshire needed to take when the third day began, finding some turn with his off-spin to have Dawid Malan caught at slip with the fifth ball of the opening over.
James Franklin, the New Zealander who now captains Middlesex, ended a run of low scores with an unbeaten 55. It might have been worth more had Rayner’s departure to a clever ball from Steve Patterson not sparked a tail-end collapse, with the last four wickets falling for 23, the last three of them in the space of 14 balls to 20-year-old all-rounder Will Rhodes. One was courtesy of a brilliant one-handed catch by Gary Ballance, whose 29 in the second innings hinted that a return to scoring form for the England batsman is close.Reuse content