For a while, Northamptonshire glimpsed prosperity, building on James Middlebrook's 70 on the opening day to establish a first-innings lead of 116 after 19-year-old Ben Duckett's 51, giving them their best position at the half-way stage of a match so far this season. It was only the second time they had actually been in front.
But as they must have been told almost every day in their quest to establish themselves in the First Division, good sessions do not necessarily win matches, even if they come nicely strung together. They won the first three and a half sessions of this contest, taking five points to Yorkshire's three. The next two and half, however, may have set them on the way to a fifth defeat.
During that period, Yorkshire's openers, Adam Lyth and Alex Lees, turned the match on its head, scoring 237 runs in the largest opening partnership of the Championship season so far, for any county, with the potential to add to it today.
Given that 17 wickets fell on the opening day, it was an extraordinary transformation, even taking into account the tendency for pitches here to flatten out. The three remaining Northamptonshire wickets fell in the first 65 minutes of play, but until the 61st over of Yorkshire's second innings, an hour after tea, when Lees survived a direct hit from David Sales at mid-off to claim a scrambled single off Matthew Spriegel, there was not another chance.
Bizarrely, having been on 76 at that moment, Lees had another escape two runs later, dropped by Rob Newton at midwicket, again off Spriegel's off-spin.
Lees brushed himself down and completed 100 off 222 balls with his 13th four, his first of the season and celebrated with a little more reserve than Lyth, who marked his with a jump in the air as he watched a handsome drive off James Middlebrook heading unstoppably for the rope on the cover boundary. It was a leap of relief as much as joy, you would imagine, given that he had faced 53 balls in the 90s.
It had been an untypical innings by the left-hander, at least after he had completed his first 50 off 68 balls. Where he had been as eager as ever to develop early momentum, taking eight boundaries in the first 16 overs against the new ball, he grew progressively more circumspect, showing considerable respect to Middlebrook's off-spin in particular. He is unbeaten on 116, the hundred his second of the season, taking him beyond 600 runs in first-class games, 540 of them in the Championship.Reuse content