The gulf between Second and First Division cricket must suddenly seem unnervingly wide for Northamptonshire, who watched Yorkshire ruthlessly pile on the runs before themselves capitulating for 94 in just 30 overs between lunch and tea.
If it was not for rain in the final session, which cost 33 overs (quite apart from the extra 10 possible if a result is imminent), they might have been beaten inside two days. As it is, they will resume at some point on Tuesday, once the weather clears, with a deficit of 365. Yorkshire have already enforced the follow-on.
If Gary Ballance had made batting look easy, stretching his overnight 117 to 174 before Andrew Hall, who toiled long and hard for his four wickets, had him leg before, playing back in by-now weary defence, Northants found it to be an ordeal with which they could not cope.
It did not help that they came up against a former team-mate who bowled at times superbly. Jack Brooks has no animosity towards his ex-colleagues, nor they towards him. But he is a highly talented bowler who has established himself quickly as a key member of the Yorkshire seam attack and has a hunger to take wickets.
His long hair tamed by his trademark headband, Brooks opened with five overs from the Kirkstall Lane end (5-1-17-1) before skipper Andrew Gale switched him to the Rugby Stand end. Hurtling in to sound effects generated by the Leeds Rhinos fans watching their team crush Salford Red Devils in the adjoining stadium, he took four more wickets for 19 runs in seven overs, including a delivery to Rob Newton, one of his best friends in his time at Wantage Road, that would have defeated batsmen of a much higher profile.
It was a rude awakening for the promoted side. Without their most successful bowlers of last year – Trent Copeland no longer with them and David Willey unable to bowl because of injury – they could do nothing to prevent the damage that Ballance inflicted, and were then inclined at times themselves to bat a little too aggressively. Hall edged a decent ball low to third slip as Brooks claimed his third success, but Willey and Steven Crook, his fourth and fifth victims, were caught at gully and backward point, both to wide deliveries.
Brooks was not Northamptonshire’s only problem. Ryan Sidebottom, his powers showing no evidence of decline at 36, finished with 4 for 16 from nine overs, taking wickets with each of his final two balls, which means they will face him next on a hat-trick.
Ballance’s score was his highest in England and, on another statistical note, the eight lbw dismissals in the Yorkshire innings equalled the world record in first-class cricket.Reuse content