Lyth and Lees sink the putts
Yorkshire 136 and 237 for 0 (Lyth 116*, Lees 105*) lead Northamptonshire 251 (Duckett 51) by 122 runs
Adam Lyth is a fine batsman when the moment seizes him, capable of strokeplay as pleasing on the eye as most in the Championship, his natural inclination being to attack, particularly against the new ball. Less impressive in his career so far has been his tendency to lose patience, a flaw that has cost him many a soft dismissal. He has made 10 first-class centuries, but you suspect it should have been more.
Yet perhaps the best is still to come. His latest hundred, half of an extraordinary opening partnership, unbroken as yet, with fellow centurion Alex Lees that has turned this match on its head, was typically Lyth in parts, at least in his first half-century, but then most untypical, involving long periods of circumspection, self-restraint and deep concentration, notably in the most patience-testing passage of all, between 90 and 100.
The left-hander, who had reached 50 off 68 balls, faced 53 deliveries between the single off Maurice Chambers by which he reached 90 and the four to the cover boundary off James Middlebrook that took him to his hundred. Anyone blessed with similar patience and access to Lyth's career history might find that this is a record for him. He celebrated extravagantly, leaping in the air as if he had done it on his debut in a Test match.
If he has acquired new powers of concentration, they have come from an unusual source: a golf course putting green.
"Simon Hatley, our sports psychologist, devised this exercise that involves us doing two-foot puts, one after the other, concentrating on not missing," he said. "I got 213 in a row over an hour and a half before I missed one."
It was Lyth's third hundred of the season, two of them in the Championship, and his seventh time past 50 in first class matches.
"I suppose my celebration was a bit over the top because although it is my third hundred this season I probably should have got a few more," he said. "I probably have become a bit more patient. I still look to hit it for four if it is in my area but this time they bowled a bit negative and you had to be patient."
Lyth's 116 alone robbed Northamptonshire of the rare prosperity they had glimpsed earlier in the day, when 19-year--old Ben Duckett's 51 -- a nice innings from a wicketkeeper-batsman of promise -- supplemented James Middlebrook's 70 on the opening day to establish a first-innings lead of 116.
It was only the second time this season they had actually been in front. Yet they learned again on a day almost as noteworthy as the first, when 17 wickets fell, that a session or two won, even three and a half sessions as here, means nothing unless superiority is maintained. There may be turns to come but having lost the next two and half sessions, they may be heading for a fifth defeat.
Lyth and Lees reached the close still together after scoring 237 runs, the largest opening partnership of the Championship season so far, for any county.
Pitches here have a tendency to flatten out but the contrast with the first day could not have been much more extreme. Northamptonshire lost their last three wickets in the first 65 minutes of play, but until the 61st over of Yorkshire's second innings, an hour after tea, when Lees scrambled home for a single on 76 despite David Sales scoring a direct hit to the bowler's end from mid-off, there was not another chance. As it happens, Lees survived another two runs later, dropped by Rob Newton at midwicket, off Matthew Spriegel's off-spin.
Lees regained his composure and completed his hundred 100 off 222 balls with his 13th four, his first of the season and celebrated with a little more reserve than Lyth.