Lancashire v Yorkshire, Old Trafford, 2nd day September 1, 2014

Lyth turns cautious craftsman


Yorkshire 396 for 5 (Lyth 182*, Bairstow 60) lead Lancashire 278 by 118 runs

There are two Adam Lyths and both of them are admirable batsmen. The first seems to shun constraint and makes high-class attacking strokeplay seem so easy that one wonders why more people do not practice it; the second appears to have taken an oath of self-denial and eschews risk in favour of shepherding his team to a total that defines the structure of a game.

The crowd at the second day of the Roses match at Old Trafford saw the second Lyth in excelsis, making careful progress to his fifth Championship century of the season and his second on the ground. In doing so he exposed the grisly inadequacy of Lancashire's batting on Sunday and offered something of a tutorial to opponents or spectators interested in seeing how one innings takes its place within the broader effort.

By the close Lyth amassed 182 not out and will relish his power to add to his team's already healthy 118-run lead. Then Yorkshire's attack will attempt to expose their opponent's batting a second time.

The cautious craftsman Lyth was most obviously at work in the morning session when he scored 29 runs off 81 balls and reached his fifty off 121 deliveries. The loss of his opening partner Alex Lees, trapped lbw on the crease by a straight ball from Tom Bailey only reinforced Lyth's resolve.

His three fours in the session may have included the crispest of straight drives off Bailey but far, far more frequent were the equally well played defensive strokes, punctuated occasionally by the opener's stock-in-trade clips off the hip. Every ball was treated as if it might uncover a Lancastrian snake lurking beneath the Mancunian soil.

At the other end Kane Williamson acknowledged few such anxieties and Lyth let the New Zealander go his own sweet way in stroking eight fours in 46. But the pitfalls prepared for the unwary were revealed after lunch when Williamson was skillfully stumped down the leg side by Alex Davies off slow left-armer Stephen Parry, and the same bowler tempted Andrew Gale to pull a short ball straight to Usman Khawaja at midwicket four overs later. In between these dismissals Lyth himself was dropped at slip off Parry, a sharp one-handed chance to Paul Horton when he was 57. So as his captain departed, Lyth swished his bat at the offending world and buckled down for more Puritan observance.

But as it turned out, a cavalier was about to enter the field in the form of Jonny Bairstow and he put Lancashire's mostly blameless bowling to the sword. It is difficult, as yet, to see Bairstow batting in the same fashion as Lyth had managed, so the fourth-wicket pair offered a pleasing contrast during a 103-run stand which occupied only 18.4 overs and took Yorkshire from a respectable 163 for 4 to a prosperous 266 for 4, just 12 runs in arrears.

During that partnership, which changed the tempo of the day's cricket, Lyth reached his century off 213 balls when he pulled Croft to the boundary. As the ball crossed the boundary, he indulged in a celebratory leap and punched the air. Then he seemed to start again.

Bairstow hit eight fours and a six in his own 75-minute entertainment, yet his approach was almost licensed by that of his partner. When the England batsman was bowled for 60, making room to play Steven Croft through the off side, Yorkshire were on the threshold of plain superiority. Although Jack Leaning was lbw to Simon Kerrigan for a single, Adil Rashid joined Lyth in ensuring that the visitors ended the day joyously in the ascendant.

When he trooped off Lyth could reflect how the concentration exercises he had worked on through the winter had borne such rich fruit in one of his side's most important matches. It is also clear that he could not sustain that effort were he not a very fit cricketer indeed. But there is more to the two Adam Lyths on view this summer. He now looks ready to play Test cricket because his relatively defensive innings are not those played by an essentially attacking batsman. He looks deeply comfortable when applying himself in either mode and he gives the impression that batting so well is almost simple. His colleagues and opponents know it is not so.

"This is one of Adam's best knocks," Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie said. "I think what he's shown this year is that he's been able to adapt to different situations and conditions and play accordingly. I think he's ready for Test cricket now. If England's selectors come knocking, he won't let them down. I think he's good enough. He's putting performances on the board, and you can't be ignored forever."

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  • Rod on September 2, 2014, 15:00 GMT

    Definitely agree that Lyth and Robson should go on Lions tour with Cook. Much better way for Cook to spend his winter than captaining the ODI side for which he is not suited and where he picks up bad habits that affect his test form. Since Strauss retired it seems that getting into the test team as Cook's opening partner is the kiss of death, so the idea of being able to experiment with different combinations is appealing. Hales is another good candidate for tests, but he WILL be needed in the ODI side so probably can't go with Lions.

  • Dummy4 on September 2, 2014, 12:42 GMT

    Couldn't care less about England if Yorkshire, win the County Championship it will be better for me than any Ashes down under.

  • John on September 2, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    @GeoffreysMother on (September 1, 2014, 20:08 GMT), the fact that he can catch should be reason enough to get him into the England team. His batting is just a bonus.

  • R on September 2, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    Every comment on here mirroring many previous comments ref Lyth to be in Eng test squad… I have said it many times myself, plus he's Eng born, wants to bat all day and can catch… Let's see how long the selectors wait to include him… Plus Bairstow showing that he should be in the ODI XI purely as a bat, and Rashid in the ODI squad… Lots for the Eng selectors to think about?? Not really, pretty obvious…

  • Jason on September 2, 2014, 6:57 GMT

    I'd like to see Lyth do this on a lions tour, Id also send Cook,Robson and Hales along and see which combination works best, they don't need to lose game time as you can play one of the others at 3 so a line up of top three from Cook ,Lyth/Robson/Hales.

    Opening partnerships are all about being confident with the other player and you only gain confidence playing in games together, Look at some of the great English opening partnerships, Sutcliffe and Hobbs, Gooch and Atherton, Hutton and Washbrook.

  • Dummy4 on September 1, 2014, 21:38 GMT

    Lyth is making it very hard indeed for England to persevere with Robson. Surely he deserves a chance given the enormous weight of division 1 runs, and ability to attack the new ball. Not to mention the fact that Robson appears to need to sort out his technique before coming back at test level.

  • GeoffreysMother on September 1, 2014, 20:08 GMT

    Lyth has also taken 30 catches in the championship most of them at slip and is bettered only by 5 wicketkeepers in Division1. He is also pretty good at catches on the boundary. Given he is now an experienced batsman who has learnt then refined his technique he should open in the West Indies; if not he should play for Australia citing he used to watch Skippy as a lad.

  • Michael on September 1, 2014, 19:24 GMT

    @Regwec: Quite right. Furthermore how many England-qualified openers have the strength of concentration to bat for a full day's play?

    I'm guessing Lyth and Robson will both get the chance to stake their claim for the No 2 spot before next year's Ashes (Lions tour/Windies/New Zealand at home), but if they were starting next week, Lyth would be a shoo-in, for my money.

  • Sam on September 1, 2014, 18:52 GMT

    Though the bowling was tame, Lyth gave what looked like a very refined performance. His candidacy for the No.2 slot for England looks increasingly compelling. There seems to be more gears to Lyth's game than Hales currently has.

  • Paulo on September 1, 2014, 18:47 GMT

    Get him in the test squad for West Indies. While I wouldn't be completely for dropping Robson yet, Lyth should be the next in line to replace Cook/Robson/Ballance if they aren't in the side for whatever reason, be it injury, dropped, rest..

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