Jonny Bairstow held Yorkshire together with a sparkling unbeaten 125 against Middlesex at Headingley – an innings which prompted club coach Jason Gillespie to declare the wicketkeeper-batsman should be with the England side.
On a tricky playing surface, Bairstow continued the impressive batting form which had brought him scores of 102, 59, 50 and 66 in his four previous Championship innings.
Yorkshire eked out a 17-run first-innings lead but Middlesex reached 127-4 at the close to lead by 110.
With Bairstow on 56 and Yorkshire floundering on 142-8 in reply to Middlesex’s first innings score of 212, both his own century and a first-innings lead seemed a long way off.
But Bairstow had managed to advance to 72 when Steve Patterson departed at 170 to bring in last man Jack Brooks, who settled into a more sensible mode after twice stealing singles off the last ball of an over.
Bairstow’s second of two sixes at the expense of Toby Roland-Jones raised the 200 and a boundary off James Harris brought him his century off 161 balls with nine fours and two sixes. It was his 10th in first class matches for Yorkshire, putting him one ahead of his late father David’s tally.
He drove Ollie Rayner for two sixes, the second being palmed over the line by Roland-Jones, but in the same over Brooks was caught behind, leaving Bairstow stranded after receiving 187 deliveries and hitting 10 fours and four sixes.
The 10th-wicket stand was worth 59 in 13.2 overs and it took Yorkshire to 229, giving them a first-innings lead of 17 which was erased by Joe Burns and Sam Robson with little fuss.
They shared an opening stand of 51 together before Brooks struck with consecutive deliveries in the second over after tea, Burns being stunningly caught right handed by Adam Lyth at second slip and Nick Compton getting one which skimmed into his pads.
Almost immediately after Dawid Malan had called for a runner (Burns), Neil Dexter fell lbw to Tim Bresnan, the game then going through a quieter phase as Malan and Franklin got Middlesex back on an even keel with a stand of 55.
“He’s been a victim of circumstances. He must be very close,” Gillespie said of Bairstow’s England claims.
“It’s one of the best innings you will see in Championship cricket. I thought the way he batted with the lower order was simply outstanding. In the context of the game and the situation we found ourselves in, to gain a first-innings lead was fantastic.
“We are quite fortunate at Yorkshire to have Jonny in this game.
“The (England) selectors haven’t picked him so all Jonny can do is score as many runs as possible and keep as well as he can.
“We shouldn’t expect him to be around at Yorkshire because I think England honours will come sooner rather than later.”
Close: Headingley Carnegie: Middlesex 212 (NRD Compton 70; J A Brooks 5-44) and 127- 4; Yorkshire 229 (JM Bairstow 125 no; TS Roland-Jones 4-78).