AFTER an “okay” start to the season in the words of director of cricket Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire wanted this game to kick-start their title challenge.
It is safe to say that it has now been kick-started.
A 10-wicket win over Lancashire was as emphatic as it suggests and sent a clear message to the rest of Division One.
It was not a perfect performance (Adam Lyth was the only Yorkshire batsman to post a sizeable score), but the bowling and fielding were impressive and it was the type of ruthless display for which Moxon had called.
For Lancashire, practically the only thing that went right was that they won the toss – and they even made a mess of that.
Their decision to bat first and expose their top-order to overcast skies and the wiles of a deadly seam attack was a blunder from which they never recovered.
Even if they had chosen to bowl first, and thus exercise the right of the visiting side, it is a moot point whether the outcome would have been different.
From first to last, Yorkshire were all over them, their display evocative of the sort that swept them to back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015.
If Lancashire were to extricate themselves from a sorry predicament (they were still nine runs adrift with only six wickets left at the start of day three), it seemed essential that Shivnarine Chanderpaul was there to do the extricating.
As it was, the West Indian was one of two wickets to fall inside the opening six overs, along with South African Dane Vilas.
The pair had added 60 in 15 overs on the second evening to give their side hope, and their swift removal was key to Yorkshire’s prospects of completing a prompt kill on day three.
Particularly so the removal of Chanderpaul, who has made a career out of frustrating bowlers with his crab-like stance and dogged technique.
In sunny weather that almost immediately gave way to cloudy conditions, Ryan Sidebottom kick-started Yorkshire’s morning as surely as a glass of orange juice and an energising cereal.
Bowling from the Rugby Stand end, the left-armer struck with the 14th ball of the day after Lancashire resumed on 141-4.
Sidebottom slanted a delivery across the right-handed Vilas, who dangled his bat just outside off stump and edged to second slip, where Lyth took the catch, moving to his right.
But the wicket Yorkshire really wanted was that of Chanderpaul, who feathered behind an excellent delivery from Ben Coad, who thus claimed his wicket for the second time in the game.
It ended a typically stubborn rearguard from Chanderpaul, who faced 80 balls and batted for 10 minutes short of two hours.
His departure effectively left Lancashire minus one for six, with only a worsening weather forecast likely to hold Yorkshire up for long.
Following the early loss of Vilas and Chanderpaul, the visitors’ only real hope was to counter-attack.
McLaren and Jordan Clark tried their best to knock Yorkshire off their lines and lengths, their stand of 48 in 11 overs ended when Tim Bresnan nipped one across McLaren, who edged to Jack Leaning at third slip.
In his next over, Bresnan got the useful wicket of Clark, who seemed unimpressed with umpire Michael Gough’s decision to adjudge him caught behind.
Clark’s departure left Lancashire 198-8, his attractive innings of 37 including five boundaries.
The only question then was whether Lancashire would hold out to lunch, and the answer was “no”.
Sidebottom picked up his second wicket of the day – and his third of the innings – when Tom Bailey edged to fourth slip, where Peter Handscomb took the catch, and Bresnan rounded things off with his third wicket in as many overs when he had Stephen Parry caught behind, Lancashire dismissed for 209 at 12.30pm.
It was good stuff again from Yorkshire’s seam bowlers, who all contributed.
Another key factor was the fielding and catching, with Yorkshire’s slips doing the business and with Hodd typically tidy behind the stumps.
A frustration for Lancashire was that all of their top-eight reached double figures but no one reached a half-century, Chanderpaul top-scoring with 47.
In the first innings, only three Lancashire batsmen reached double figures, and not many matches are saved – let alone won – after a side is dismissed for 123 on the opening day.
Chasing 60 for their second Championship win of the season, Yorkshire made suitably light work of the task.
Lyth and Alex Lees took the total to 39-0 at lunch, which, for Lancashire, must have felt like the final meal for condemned men.
Yorkshire completed the execution before the food had been properly digested, Lyth finishing on 28 and Lees 25.
Yorkshire’s next Championship match is away to Somerset, starting on Friday.