CHRIS Taylor departed to the 11th ball of the day at Headingley today but Darren Lehmann completed a breathtaking half-century for Yorkshire with some stunning shots before he, too, was dismissed.

Yorkshire were 146-2 and trailing Essex by 116 at the start of the third day with Taylor and Lehmann already having added 37 for the third wicket.

Taylor had spent 121 deliveries yesterday patiently accumulating 31 but he had added only a single to his score when he lost his off-stump to one which kept low from Graham Napier.

Lehmann, 26 overnight, raised the 150 by taking three off left-arm paceman Scott Brant who was really roughed up in his next over by the Australian who plundered four boundaries and a two off five consecutive deliveries, the boundaries coming from two cuts, an on-drive and a glance.

These blows hurried Lehmann on to 49 but the next two fours came from new batsman, Michael Lumb, who followed a streaky shot to third man off Napier with a sparkling square drive.

John Stephenson, struck on the right thumbnail when batting in the Essex innings, replaced Brant at the football end but there was a lengthy delay while he changed the dressing to one which the umpires found acceptable.

His second ball was hammered through the covers for four to bring Lehmann a superb half-century off a mere 49 balls with ten boundaries but the applause had barely died down when Lehmann attempted to force Stephenson's next delivery off the back foot only to be caught at short backward point by Will Jefferson.

It was a typically flamboyant Lehmann innings and when he departed at 183-4 he was replaced by fellow Australian Ian Harvey in his first Championship innings for his new county.

With Lumb playing nicely, the score soon moved beyond 200 to bring Yorkshire their first batting bonus point but the fall of two wickets had checked Yorkshire's advantage in front of a good-sized crowd which was enjoying the cricket and the pleasant weather.

Yorkshire's new captain, Craig White, led from the front yesterday to put his side into a healthy position after each of his six bowlers had claimed at least one wicket.

White, who opened the Yorkshire reply with Matthew Wood, was soon stroking the ball through the covers during a sparkling innings of 60 before falling lbw after facing 101 balls and striking nine boundaries.

There was also a personal milestone for White to celebrate because when he brought up his 50 with his seventh boundary it also took him beyond 10,000 runs in first class cricket and he now requires only seven more runs to complete 8,000 for his county.

How different things are for White from a year ago when he was forced to miss the first six Championship matches after an operation to remove the bottom two inches of a rib bone.

The best of the Essex batting yesterday came from opener Will Jefferson, whose 74 contained 13 boundaries, most of them all along the ground, and Mark Pettini, who scored a watchful 67 with 11 fours before falling lbw to the spin of Lehmann, who also snapped up the wicket of former Yorkshire all-rounder James Middlebrook for a useful 25.

Essex suffered a blow when Stephenson was struck on the right thumbnail by a ball from Vic Craven and had to retire hurt for a while.

Stuart Law, described as "the best county batsman of his era" by Chris Adams, captain of champions Sussex, will be ready to play for England next year against his native Australia. Former Aussie Test batsman Law, 35, made his 68th first-class hundred against the title-holders yesterday, an unbeaten 171, as Lancashire took command, then confirmed he would be qualified to play for England from the end of this year.

Updated: 12:39 Friday, April 23, 2004