JOE ROOT and Jonny Bairstow got their eye in for next week’s first Test at Headingley by smashing a raft of Yorkshire records in their triple-century stand against Surrey.
The fourth-wicket pair put in the shade a cast of famous counterparts dating back through the Yorkshire generations, as far as the 19th century, Bairstow posting 198 and Root finishing unbeaten on 190 out of 486-5.
It was the pace at which they scored that was perhaps most extraordinary, racking up 372 together in only 67 overs – having joined forces at 45-3 early on day two of this Specsavers County Championship Division One match.
By the close, under still cloudless skies and to the evident delight of a 2,000-plus home crowd, the champions had an obvious opportunity to push for the first win of a campaign they hope will culminate in a third successive title.
En route, Yorkshire’s highest stand against Surrey – George Hirst and Ted Wainwright’s 340 at The Oval in 1899 – Darren Lehmann and Michael Lumb’s 358, the all-time club best for the fourth wicket just 10 years ago, and eventually all but four of the White Rose’s top partnerships under any category were all surpassed.
As Root and Bairstow garnered further folklore, it could only be heartening for England too that – when they return to the same venue to face Sri Lanka next Thursday – they will do so with fresh memories of this mastery of a first-class attack.
Such was their superiority, there was a surreal sense of disbelief when Bairstow finally did depart – guiding a cut to point off James Burke – having hit 24 boundaries from 231 balls.
Root stayed put, after the loss of Andrew Gale hooking a catch behind off Ravi Rampaul (3-126) with the second new ball, to close with 20 fours and a six from his 221 deliveries in an astounding 471 scored in the day.
Yorkshire were in a relative spot of bother, after losing three wickets for 18 runs.
They had judged the previous evening that the opposition total of 330 was under par on a good pitch, but it did not necessarily look that way when their three top-order left-handers went so quickly.
Adam Lyth was lbw, back in his crease, to Rampaul, and Gary Ballance’s hopes of morale-boosting runs to put him in the frame for a Test comeback foundered against the Trinidadian seamer too.
The sight of Ballance defending a ball back down on to his stumps was an alarming one, for a batsman who has looked out of sorts more than once already this summer.
Alex Lees then got in a tangle, fencing an edge behind off Tom Curran for a very fine catch by Ben Foakes.
The response to transient strife was trademark counter-attack, from Bairstow especially, and brought him his half-century in just 30 balls with a cut past point off James Burke for his 10th four.
Bairstow’s dominance continued, a bustling example of the highest standards he has established over the past year.
Both he and Root gave just one half-chance, each coincidentally from the bowling of Burke – the bowler to whom they administered most punishment.
The seamer had already conceded 14 runs in one over, before being switched immediately to the Rugby Ground end, when he had Root dropped by Jason Roy away to his right at second slip.
By the time Bairstow had a minor moment of fortune too, via a diving Arun Harinath at mid-on when he had 134, Surrey were holding on for respite that was not forthcoming.