Yorkshire in control thanks to openers

Alex Lees and Adam Lyth
Alex Lees and Adam Lyth
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A formidable 270-run partnership between Adam Lyth and Alex Lees saw Yorkshire put an early boot into Durham on the opening day of their the LV= County Championship Division One match at Headingley.

A formidable 270-run partnership between Adam Lyth and Alex Lees saw Yorkshire put an early boot into Durham on the opening day of their the LV= County Championship Division One match at Headingley.

Visiting captain Paul Collingwood put Yorkshire in to bat, but then looked on helplessly as the openers flogged his Durham attack to all parts in a stand which lasted 71.3 overs.

The partnership was eventually ended when Lees was dismissed by Scott Borthwick for 108, with Lyth departing soon afterwards for 143, and second-placed Yorkshire eventually closed on 367-7 after paceman Mark Wood hit back strongly with four wickets in 11 balls at a cost of four runs.

Lyth and Lees are only in their second season batting together but they are already proving to be a formidable combination, and early last month they amassed 375 for the first wicket against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.

Their latest stand was a Yorkshire record for the first wicket against Durham, beating the 146 which Lyth helped Joe Sayers put on at the same venue four years ago, and when Lyth had reached 126 it gave him 1,000 first-class runs for the season.

There was some early movement off the seam for new-ball bowlers Chris Rushworth and John Hastings but neither was able to exploit it to the full, and Lyth and Lees went for their shots from the start with the former taking three boundaries in an over off Hastings.

Lees joined the spree by cover-driving consecutive deliveries from Hastings to the boundary and the introduction of Phil Coughlin to the attack saw his first ball struck for four by Lyth.

The century stand arrived from 119 balls and Lyth was first to the 50 mark, hitting Coughlin for his 10th boundary, while Lees’ half-century arrived with his seventh four which he followed up with an on-driven six against Borthwick.

The batsmen were so much in command that Yorkshire went in to lunch on 145 in 32 overs and they remained very much in charge after the interval, although Lyth pulled Hastings just short of Keaton Jennings running in from the square leg boundary and Lees survived a concerted appeal for a catch behind off Coughlin which left umpire Richard Kettleborough unmoved.

The 200 was raised in the 53rd over and Lyth, whose pace rarely slackened, cantered to his century from 183 balls with 19 fours.

Lees looked less comfortable as he neared three figures and he would have gone for 91 had wicket-keeper Michael Richardson not dropped a shoulder-high chance off Coughlin which looped off his gloves and over the top of Collingwood at first slip.

Lyth was 107 at tea and Lees 96 and in the opening over of the evening session the former drove Wood for three boundaries, while Lees went on to flick Collingwood off his hips to the rope to complete his century from 181 balls with 12 fours and a six.

Borthwick then achieved the long-awaited breakthrough by pinning Lees lbw moving across his stumps and Wood’s sudden intervention left Yorkshire reeling on 291-5. Lyth and skipper Andrew Gale were both lbw on the back foot and Jonny Bairstow was bowled second ball, shouldering arms.

Jack Leaning was caught behind to give Wood his fourth wicket and Aaron Finch briefly stopped the slide with some aggressive shots until Rushworth in consecutive overs had them taken by Borthwick at second slip.

Steve Patterson came in at 344-7 and he and Tim Bresnan saw their side to a fourth batting bonus point, but Yorkshire ended the day not quite as strongly placed as spectators had expected.

Lyth said: “I think we would take 367 for seven every day of the week after being put in to bat on that type of wicket.

“It seamed around a bit and Alex and I batted pretty well but we could have been out early on and we rode our luck a bit early doors and cashed in.

“You have to bowl full and straight on this pitch and I thought Durham bowled better later in the day.

“I seem to be in a good place with my batting at the moment and long may it continue.

“Many captains would have bowled first on that pitch but we were always going to bat and Alex and I got going very well at the top of the order.”

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