YORKSHIRE’S batsmen, led by centurion Adam Lyth, achieved a rare feat against reigning champions Durham as they seized control of their LV= County Championship match at Emirates Durham.
They imposed themselves on a usually potent attack in the first innings of a match on this ground as they closed on 299-3 from 96 overs.
In their last 16 Championship matches at home, dating back to May 2012, Durham have only conceded four batting bonus points, with two of them coming yesterday.
Warwickshire made 209 here last year and Sussex 211 the season before. But, otherwise, no team has passed 200.
With that in mind and with conditions seemingly suited for bowlers, it was a surprise when Andrew Gale opted to bat first upon winning the toss.
But his bold decision was vindicated by Lyth’s 104 off 200 balls and a 209-ball 97 from New Zealander Kane Williamson.
The pair shared 179 inside 55 overs for the second wicket to take the visitors from 29-1 in the 11th over to 208-1 in the 65th.
Although Lyth played with a flourish, he also harnessed that with impressive concentration - especially as he moved into the early nineties. It took him 35 balls to get from 89 to 92.
“It was (a brave decision to bat first),” said Lyth, who has enjoyed an excellent start to the season even though this was his first ton. “It was obviously tough to bat on, and I knew I had to dig in and, as I did, get to a hundred.
“Me and Kane played very well, and hopefully Galey and Jonny Bairstow can do that as well.
“When we bowl, I think we can bowl a bit fuller and straighter. I think they got a little bit wide and too short at times. Hopefully the pitch gets quicker and the seam movement’s still there.”
Durham’s spearhead Graham Onions was off colour even though his figures of 0-38 from 20 overs look reasonable.
The home attack did not make Yorkshire’s batsmen play anywhere near enough, while their fielders let slip four catches - one of those was off a Jamie Harrison no-ball when Lyth was on 13.
Lyth was also dropped on 88 when an edge off Mark Wood was parried by Scott Borthwick at second slip before Paul Collingwood failed to grasp the rebound.
Williamson offered a tough chance to wicketkeeper Phil Mustard on 92 off Wood before Gale was dropped by Kumar Sangakkara at a wide third slip off Onions with the second new ball.
The three wickets to fall were those of Alex Lees, Lyth and Williamson.
Lees was caught behind off left-armer Harrison, Lyth caught at second slip off the same man and Williamson bowled by Chris Rushworth three balls after Durham had taken the second new ball.
Williamson’s innings equalled his best for Yorkshire. Ironically, he also scored 97 against Durham at Scarborough last August.
Gale will resume day two on 35, with Jonny Bairstow on 22.
LV= County Championship
Durham v Yorkshire
Emirates Durham ICG
(Yorkshire won toss)
Yorkshire First Innings
A Lyth c Borthwick b Harrison 104
A Z Lees c Mustard b Harrison 9
K S Williamson b Rushworth 97
A W Gale not out 35
J M Bairstow not out 22
Extras (lb10 w5 nb17) 32
Total 3 wkts (96 overs) 299
Fall: 1-29 2-208 3-257.
Bowling: Onions 20-7-38-0, Rushworth 20-6-62-1, Harrison 21-2-87-2, Wood 22-3-61-0, Jennings 8-2-21-0, Collingwood 5-2-20-0.