Notts capable of surprise challenge
Yorkshire 247 (Pyrah 45, Siddle 4-65) and 53 for 3 drew with Nottinghamshire 205 (Lumb 45, Bresnan 3-43) and 335 for 8 dec. (Taylor 96, Read 75)
When Chris Read took guard, with lunch still 45 minutes away, Yorkshire's hopes were stirring that they could pull off the win that would return them to the top of the Championship. Nottinghamshire were five down, their lead was a paltry 113 and with the weather set fair there remained ample time to force victory.
How often has a counterpunching innings by Read silenced such a notion over the years? More than even he can remember. From the moment he struck his third ball, from Jack Brooks, for the first of his nine boundaries, Yorkshire's Championship ambitions were undermined. There is a perkiness to his strokeplay which does not just repel an attack, but inadvertently pokes fun at it.
It was hard to credit the fact that for much of last season Read was agonizing about his batting form and was reluctant to reconfirm his commitment to the captaincy while form deserted him. He remains Notts' talisman. Jason Gillespie and Mick Newell, the rival coaches, were united in praise.
"Read played very well," Gillespie said. "Had we impacted there it could have been a different story." Newell observed: "We were under serious pressure when Ready walked out to bat. Not only did he get us out of trouble, he scored at such a rate that we were able to dictate the direction of the match"
They chose to direct it into a backwater. It was regrettable, but it was necessary. A target of 294 in 39 overs was suitably ignored by Yorkshire. Newell suggested that 280 in 43 might have been a better balance. "These days that is not such a scary target to entertain," he said. At least that slight shift might have been enough for Yorkshire to promote Aaron Finch up the order and have a bit of a punt. Luke Fletcher could not bowl for Notts because of a back spasm, but Newell dismissed that as a factor.
Read had every incentive to succeed with the bat. There was the little matter of his first-innings dismissal when he was run out after colliding with the bowler, Steve Patterson, and left in some dudgeon. The ECB subsequently announced that he would only suffer a reprimand for his dissent.
But by the time his innings - 75 from 94 balls - was completed, there was also something much more significant afoot, a sneaking suspicion that Nottinghamshire's Championship challenge cannot be entirely discounted in what has the makings of an open year.
They are only 17 points off the pace and with matches against Warwickshire, Somerset and Middlesex coming up in quick succession, we will know a lot more in a month.
That suggestion is not as extreme as it appears. An illustrious top six has not been raided by England and boasts five of the top 12 Division One run scorers. Gillespie was quick to praise their pace bowling strength - and not just because of the presence of a fellow Australian in Peter Siddle.
If Read changed the thrust of the game almost immediately, it was the second over with the second new ball, with is 50 already established, that Yorkshire's chances of victory disappeared for good. Notts led by 195 when Read survived a return catch to Steven Patterson and Tim Bresnan shied at the wrong end, so missing the chance to run him out for the second time in the game.
"What are you doing?" cried a spectator in condemnation.
"What are you doing?" shot back Bresnan, loudly and none-too lovingly.
Cue grins and cries of "oooh" in the East Stand. Pantomime season, Headingley style.
Notts' pleasure was not entirely unabated. Staunch batting by Michael Lumb and James Taylor in a tricky 12-over session on the third evening was identified as essential for Notts, but both missed out on personal satisfaction on the final day. Taylor, playing with understated excellence, was caught by a diving Adil Rashid at square leg as he attempted the boundary that would have brought up his hundred. Lumb's ambitions were modest: he has yet to make a Championship fifty and he fell one run short, edging Patterson to the wicketkeeper.
The Championship has entered its second phase. England's Test squad has been stripped away and Yorkshire, who must manage without Joe Root, Gary Ballance and Liam Plunkett, have a greater challenge than most. Their top order of Lyth, Lees and Leaning has at least two L plates. The loss of Plunkett leaves Jack Brooks, the leading wicket-taker in Division One, as their main attacking bowler. Yorkshire would benefit if the leg spin of Adil Rashid came to the fore, but Read and Taylor dealt with him with comfort.
Gillespie remains adamant that Yorkshire have the depth to maintain their challenge and insists that inexperience in the top order will not persuade them to play a more conservative brand of cricket. "We allowed Notts back in the game when we batted," he said. "We should have pushed beyond 300. The top six need to take the responsibility and get the job done. We remain committed to aggressive cricket."
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo