UNBEATEN centurions Adam Lyth and Alex Lees have turned Yorkshire’s LV= County Championship match against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road on its head after a disastrous start saw them bowled out for 136 in their first innings.
Lyth and Lees shared an unbroken opening partnership of 237 in 77 overs to help the visitors grab the contest by the throat during the second day after conceding a first-innings lead of 115.
Lyth will resume on 116 not out with fellow left-hander Lees for company on 105 as the pair aim to build on a lead which currently stands at 122.
They have shared the highest opening partnership anywhere in the country this summer, and it is only the third double century opening stand for Yorkshire in matches against Northants. The last was in 1948.
After 17 wickets fell on Saturday’s first day following Northants’ decision to bowl first, only three fell yesterday as they advanced from 191-7 to 251 all out before lunch in reply.
"In an ideal world, we'd have liked to have got them out a bit quicker, but they batted well,” said Lyth, who celebrated his ton with extra enthusiasm.
“Obviously me and Alex kicked on. We got beyond the new ball and put on a good partnership. But that's only a little part of it. We needed to kick on tomorrow and make it a big one.
“Hopefully we can get 150 for the pair of us and over 300 partnership for the team. That would be fantastic.”
Aaron Finch top-scored in the first innings with 34 from number six in the order before Jack Brooks continued his excellent start to the season with 4-78 from 17 overs at his former home.
Brooks is now the joint leading wicket-taker in division one with Middlesex’s Steven Finn on 30.
Adil Rashid took two of the three Northants wickets to fall on Sunday, including Ben Duckett bowled with his first ball for 51 as he reverse swept.
Conditions were not easy for batting on Saturday, although far from impossible. There was a bit of nibble in the pitch and swing on offer, but there were a number of rash shots played from batsmen on both sides.
Yorkshire’s second innings was in complete contrast as batting conditions eased - there is still some extra bounce for the seamers from just short of a length from the Pavilion End, something which will excite Brooks, Liam Plunkett, Tim Bresnan and Steve Patterson.
There were very few obvious chances given by the pair, although Lees was dropped at mid-wicket by Rob Newton on 78 off Matt Spriegel’s off-spin.
While this was Lees’ first Championship hundred of the summer, brought up off 222 balls, Lyth had recorded his second off 194 beforehand.
After reaching his fifty off 68 balls, Lyth had to be patient as Northants resorted to some negative bowling to try and force a mistake. He spent more than 50 balls in the 90s having already notched 500 runs for the season in this competition.
"That's my third hundred this year (in all first-class cricket), and I should have had a few more," he added.
"That was why the celebration was a bit over the top, but I knew I needed to get to a hundred. Although I'm in my great form at the minute, I'm taking nothing for granted. I'll keep working hard on my game.
“The pre-season tour in Sri Lanka helped me because I got runs over there and carried it on in the University game. I'm in a great place at the moment.”
LV= County Championship
Northamptonshire v Yorkshire
Yorkshire First Innings 136 (I Butler 4-41).
Northamptonshire First Innings
(continued from 191-7 (J D Middlebrook 70).
B M Duckett b A U Rashid 51
I G Butler c Plunkett b Patterson 14
M A Chambers c Lees b A U Rashid 17
Azharullah not out 9
Extras (b5 lb3 w1 nb4) 13
Total (61 overs) 251
Fall: 1-44 2-60 3-84 4-90 5-129 6-138 7-173 8-200 9-242.
Bowling: Bresnan 19-2-67-2, Brooks 17-1-78-4, Patterson 15-5-42-1, Plunkett 8-0-55-1, A U Rashid 2-1-1-2.
Yorkshire Second Innings
A Lyth not out 116
A Z Lees not out 105
Extras (b7 lb3 w2 nb4) 16
Total 0 wkts (77 overs) 237
Bowling: Chambers 13-1-47-0, Azharullah 14-2-33-0, Butler 11-3-45-0, Middlebrook 16-2-37-0, Hall 12-2-47-0, Spriegel 11-4-18-0.