Lyth gives Yorkshire strong platform
Yorkshire 264 for 4 (Lyth 93, Williamson 80*) trail Sussex 292 by 46 runs
Precisely one year and six days ago two young Yorkshire batsmen put on 63 for their county's first wicket in the second innings of the Division Two match against Glamorgan. One of them made 11 in 39 balls and looked so terribly out of touch that it seemed his bat was made of teak; the other took 60 balls to make a fifty which included nine creamy boundaries and rarely can batting have looked so natural and easy an art. The first cricketer was Joe Root, the second, Adam Lyth.
No one these days is disputing Root's quality, albeit that the jury is still out as to whether he is quite yet a Test opener; but what is more interesting, is what a fine batsman Lyth looks when he plays as he did in making 93 on the second day at Hove.
Yet Lyth's innings against Ed Joyce's attack was very different in style from his wonderful cameo at Headingley over a year ago. Few bowlers this summer can have kept batsmen as honest as did seamer Steve Magoffin who conceded just 29 runs in 25 overs and trapped opener Phil Jaques lbw for 21 in the middle of the morning session.
Line and length seemed almost to be gospel for the Magoffin, who submitted the defensive techniques of both Lyth and his second-wicket partner Kane Williamson to the most severe of examinations. Yorkshire supporters, all of whom know how valuable a win on the south coast will be in furthering their team's title ambitions, were grateful that the pair passed the test. Indeed they put on 164 in 60 overs and their stand was only seven shy of the county's record for the second wicket when Lyth meekly dabbed Sussex debutant Ashar Zaidi to Matt Prior at slip when he had made 93.
If that was galling for White Rose zealots, it was probably even more irritating for Lyth, who has reached 90 on 14 occasions in first-class cricket but had only made seven centuries. Or to put it another way, when he gets to 90 it is even money as to whether he will make a century. For a batsman of his pedigree that is nowhere near good enough.
"At the beginning of the day I would have taken 93 but I was very disappointed not to go on and get three figures," Lyth said. "I don't really think about getting out in the nineties but I have got out between 90 and 99 seven times now. Hopefully in the next game I can go on and get that hundred that I need. "They bowled very well to Kane and myself but we knew that if we dug in the runs would come. There was no real tactic to lay a platform for later batsmen but they just bowled well and you have to respect that. We know that it's a very good wicket but when they bowl line and length it's tough to score. Steve Magoffin's line and length were unbelievable."
By close of play the consequences of Lyth's lapse at the end of his 205-ball vigil were even clearer for Yorkshire who probably need to build a large first-innings lead if they are to have a chance of winning this game.
True, Williamson is still there on 80, having sculpted the day's second monument to concentration, but Andrew Gale and Jonny Bairstow have both departed, Gale caught at the wicket by Ben Brown for a breezy 28 when following a ball from James Anyon and Bairstow castled by the same bowler when attempting a rash drive immediately after hitting him for two fine boundaries.
Given his team's situation in what is a vital match, Bairstow's shot was not consonant with the approach expected of an international cricketer. It was, to be frank, a rather stupid way to get out, for it helped to take the gloss off a day in which Lyth and Williamson's application had proved a match for Sussex's bowlers, led by Magoffin, whose accuracy was peerless.