Ageless Sidebottom warms to his task
Yorkshire 253 (Lyth 117, Finn 4-81) and 29 for 1 lead Middlesex 232 (Simpson 110, Malan 78, Sidebottom 7-44) by 50 runs
Ryan Sidebottom may be 36 and by the end of a steamy second day at North Marine Road he was feeling all of those years after bowling 17 overs in strength-sapping conditions, but he had also demonstrated his enduring class with a masterful display of left-arm swing bowling that ultimately regained the initiative for Yorkshire on a day of oscillating fortunes.
He finished with 7 for 44, his best figures since he took a career-best 7 for 37 against Somerset at Headingley in 2011. The holiday crowd of around 2,800 were willing him to claim an eighth and were baffled as Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire captain, took him off after Tim Murtagh had become his fourth victim in the space of 30 deliveries in a superb third spell of the day.
By then, well into the final session, the temperature was probably higher than it had been all day and Sidebottom looked visibly shattered as he wandered down to fine leg. In the words of Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire's director of cricket, he was, quite simply, "shot".
What he had done to leave himself craving an ice bath perhaps as never before had been invaluable, ensuring that the partnership between John Simpson and Dawid Malan that rescued Middlesex from a calamitous start did not become the basis for a first-innings advantage in a match Yorkshire dearly want to win in order that the hiatus in the Championship programme that follows this week's games ends with them in front, rather than Nottinghamshire.
In reply to Yorkshire's 253, Simpson and Malan added 168 for the fifth wicket, transforming their side's position after an awful start that saw them in disarray at 11 for 4 and fortunate not to be 11 for 5, Malan getting a life on 7.
This was largely down to Sidebottom, whose willingness to push himself seems never to diminish, particularly when there is something in the conditions that he can exploit. That had been clear enough when Middlesex took the second new ball five overs into the morning session, delayed by 30 minutes because of overnight rain. It prompted the last four Yorkshire wickets to fall in the space of six overs, two of them taken by Steven Finn, who finished with 4 for 81 for a season's tally of 44.
Let loose on the Middlesex top order for three overs before lunch, Sidebottom delivered the first instalment in his masterclass with a classic dismissal of the left-handed Chris Rogers, caught behind without scoring as the ball, bowled full, drew the batsman to defend but swung away to take the edge, Jonny Bairstow taking the catch.
Steve Patterson, interestingly introduced for one over before lunch after Jack Brooks had begun with two overs bowled largely short at the Trafalgar Square End, struck the second blow when Nick Gubbins was leg before.
Two down for four at the interval, Sidebottom took up where he had left off as the afternoon began by dismissing Eoin Morgan, who also failed to score, in almost identical fashion to Rogers. Seven for 3 became 11 for 4 as Paul Stirling became victim number three for the maestro, deflecting a catch to third slip, where Kane Williamson took it well low down.
But it should have been 11 for 4 the over before, which contained the moment that would have changed the course of the day had it gone in Yorkshire's favour, rather than against. Brooks, back on at the Trafalgar Square End, had Malan nibbling outside off stump and was about to set off on his looping celebratory run as Bairstow moved to his right to take the catch. But it was grounded.
Had it stuck, then maybe Stirling's dismissal would have made it 11 for 5, a position, you would have thought, that might have been beyond Middlesex's redemption.
As it was, some of Yorkshire's momentum disappeared as the afternoon unfolded, and Malan, with Simpson settling after almost playing on with an inside edge off Brooks that went for four, began to play in the manner that had brought him centuries in each of his last two Championship matches.
It took Yorkshire another 43 overs, into the evening session, to take another wicket, although when it came it marked the start of another brilliant spell from Sidebottom, who at last had Malan caught at second slip for 78.
In the space of 30 more deliveries he had taken three more, trapping Ollie Rayner leg before with an inswinger, and having Toby Roland-Jones and Tim Murtagh caught by Lyth again at second slip - the latter parried first by third slip - either side of a splendid throw from Adil Rashid at cover to enable Bairstow to run out Simpson, whose fine innings contained 17 fours and a six and was as important to Middlesex as Lyth's had been for Yorkshire.
Yorkshire did not benefit from Lyth's 117 as much as they might have, losing their last seven wickets for 49 runs. Lyth perished for only 9 second time around, but Yorkshire have a lead they can build on.