Brilliant Adam Lyth helps put Yorkshire in with chance of an unlikely victory

ONLY three times in their history have Yorkshire won a County Championship match after being made to follow-on since the competition was officially constituted in 1890.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 6:57 pm
Season's best: Yorkshire's Adam Lyth - who only played because Gary Ballance is ill - celebrates reaching his century against Nottinghamshire. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

ONLY three times in their history have Yorkshire won a County Championship match after being made to follow-on since the competition was officially constituted in 1890.

They beat Surrey at the Oval that summer by 15 runs; they beat Sussex at Sheffield two years later by 40 runs, and, most recently, they beat Somerset by 50 runs at Sheffield in 1951.

In other words, it does not happen very often, only marginally more frequently, in fact, than sightings of blue moons, honest pronouncements from the lips of politicians and lightning strikes in the same place twice.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Fine knock: Yorkshire's Harry Brook caught the eye in his innings of 42 - which feature eight fours. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

But at the end of the third day’s play at Trent Bridge, with this most glorious of cricket grounds bathed in the most glorious evening sunshine, Ben Coad and his players at least had a chance of finishing the season in famous style.

The situation is this: going into the last day, Nottinghamshire are 42-1 in pursuit of 174 for victory, after Yorkshire totalled 396 in their second innings, with opening batsman Adam Lyth emphatically emerging from a poor run of form - just 43 runs from his previous 10 innings - to strike 153, his highest Championship score for over five years.

It has been - regardless of whatever happens now - a remarkable turnaround after Yorkshire were routed in reply to Nottinghamshire’s first innings 296 for just 73, their second-lowest first-class total this century.

Quite how a side can go from such depths to such heights in such a short space of time, even accounting for a pitch that has become as placid as the swans on the nearby River Trent, is a mystery.

Out: Nottinghamshire's Brett Hutton celebrates taking the wicket of Yorkshire's Harry Duke. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Answers on a postcard, please, to Andrew Gale, first team coach, care of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds, LS6 3DP, who must be as mystified as everyone sometimes as to his side’s capricious nature.

Can Yorkshire seal a little slice of history against a Nottinghamshire team who could book their place in next week’s Bob Willis Trophy match with a win here and if Warwickshire fail to beat Somerset at Edgbaston? We shall see.

The prospect of having to extend an already protracted season by an extra week for an ostensibly meaningless match in honour of a man who routinely lambasted today’s players for a pastime might not exactly have the home players rushing out of bed to complete the job, with Yorkshire’s interest in that “showpiece occasion” mathematically ended as soon as Warwickshire obtained their second bowling bonus point at 10.40am yesterday courtesy of a certain Tim Bresnan, the former Yorkshire all-rounder.

However, both teams at Trent Bridge want to finish on a high and this would be a match worth winning if for nothing else than to get on the right side of a compelling contest of ebbs and flows.

The third day, unquestionably, belonged to Yorkshire, after they had started it staring at a likely defeat, having resumed on 169-3, a deficit of 54.

Under the circumstances, it seemed imperative that Lyth continued his good work of the previous day and he by no means let the flag down on another delightful late September day, the crowd swelled by a number of enthusiastic schoolchildren.

Resuming on 74, and with Gale having admitted that Lyth would have been dropped had Gary Ballance not been forced to miss the match through illness, the left-hander went to his 27th first-class hundred at the ground where he made his first in 2008, cover-driving fluently, defending solidly and manipulating the ball deftly.

Yorkshire lost only one wicket in the morning session to reach 252-4 at lunch, at which point the deficit had been turned into a lead of 29. Will Fraine, the former Nottinghamshire batsman, was leg-before playing across the line to Brett Hutton after 35 minutes, the prelude to a sumptuous performance from his replacement at the crease, Harry Brook.

The young man played beautifully, not least when taking Luke Fletcher for four offside boundaries in an over, before edging to first slip just after lunch.

Lyth, with whom Brook added 79, then shared 72 with Jordan Thompson, who edged low to second slip just before tea, moments after which Lyth feathered a catch behind to conclude a 381-ball innings that contained 20 fours.

Dom Bess and Harry Duke fell leg-before but Matthew Revis - badly dropped at second slip by Ben Duckett off Joey Evison on five - clubbed seven boundaries in a useful 34 before skying to mid-off.

Coad had Haseeb Hameed caught low down at second slip by Lyth - who else? - in the third over of the chase, but Duckett and Ben Slater played nicely in the lead up to stumps to give their side the edge.