Bairstow a 'victim of circumstance' - Gillespie
Middlesex 212(Compton 70, Brooks 5-44) and 127 for 4 lead Yorkshire 229 (Bairstow 125*, Roland-Jones 4-78) by 110 runs
It is probably just as well that England plumped for Trevor Bayliss ahead of Jason Gillespie as their next head coach because had the Yorkshire Aussie been given the job then Jonny Bairstow would not be joining Messrs Root, Ballance, Lyth, Rashid and Plunkett in not seeing much of Headingley.
Gillespie believes that regardless of Jos Buttler's obvious qualities, there ought to be room somewhere in the England team for the Yorkshire wicketkeeper, who has not played a Test since he was discarded following the Ashes whitewash of the winter before last yet has returned from his stint as Buttler's back-up on the Caribbean tour in exhilarating form.
Adequate superlatives proved almost beyond Gillespie's vocabulary as Bairstow turned this match around. Having made scores of 102, 59, 50 and 66 in his first two Championship matches of the season, he capped the sequence with a superb unbeaten 125, his 13th first-class hundred and arguably a match for any of the previous 12.
It was brilliant both for its construction, combining typical Bairstow aggression with the moments of diligence his growing maturity is allowing him to summon up, and for its context, given the predicament Yorkshire were in.
As they replied to Middlesex's 212, which the unfolding events suggested was not such a bad effort on a tricky pitch, Yorkshire had seemed likely to fall well short as some solidly impressive Middlesex bowling appeared to be underlining the value of Nick Compton's vigilant 70 of the opening day.
Jack Leaning, Bairstow's overnight partner, fell to the first ball of the morning, leg before to a fast, straight ball from Toby Roland-Jones and Glenn Maxwell carelessly to the third, driving loosely to be caught behind. It was a disastrous start and left Yorkshire 96 for 6, and though Bairstow was not for dislodging, advancing to a half-century off 89 balls, others were. Will Rhodes stayed with him for 53 minutes but after he and then Tim Bresnan departed, Yorkshire were still 70 runs adrift and eight down, not yet having reached lunch.
Yet Bairstow, who has been headstrong at times in the past, reset his focus and produced a performance that reflects his maturing as a player. With assistance from Steve Patterson and then Brooks, Bairstow was granted an extra hour and 45 minutes at the crease and in that time turned Yorkshire's fortunes around. Of the 87 more runs added from that point, he scored 69, finding the discipline to avoid foolish risks and the aggression to hit four sixes and balancing the two superbly.
"It's one of the best innings you'll see in county cricket," the Yorkshire coach, Jason Gillespie, enthused. "I thought the way he batted with the lower order was simply outstanding.
"In the context of the game, the situation we found ourselves in, for us to find ourselves in the lead going into the second innings was fantastic.
"It's up there with his finest knocks. I thought his hundred against Hampshire was a wonderful counter-attacking innings but this was an outstanding effort.
"In my view, we're quite fortunate at Yorkshire to have Jonny in this game. My personal opinion is he should be with the England side.
"He's been a victim of circumstance. The selectors haven't picked him so all Jonny can do is score as many runs as possible and keep as well as he can. He must be very close.
"I think his keeping has improved as well. There's no secret to that. He's worked incredibly hard and turned himself into a very fine 'keeper.
"We shouldn't expect him to be around at Yorkshire because I think England honours will come calling sooner rather than later. He is in special form. He is a fantastic player."
Regardless of his work with the gloves - and Bairstow still believes he can be England's wicketkeeper - there is an argument for him to be chosen as batsman anyway. With question marks hanging over the form of Ian Bell - and Ballance, for that matter - if a vacancy does appear in the middle order it is hard to think of anyone making such a compelling case for inclusion.
"I'm pretty pleased with the way I'm playing, having not played too much in the Caribbean. I'm pleased with the way I'm striking the ball. I want to keep stacking up the hundreds, that's what I'm striving for," he said.
"I would agree that this was one of my best knocks, one of my favourite hundreds, given the circumstances. It was an important one for the team and for the family, who have been through a difficult time lately. So that's one for my grandpa.
"Going from four down to six down quickly, that was not the plan. It is a difficult pitch and you know if you get one, you get one and you just have to be as positive as you can but at the same time keeping out as many balls as possible.
"Losing Jack Leaning and then Glenn Maxwell, it was a challenge and we could not go bang, bang, bang. That's why a lot should be said about the knock Will Rhodes played, to come in as a young lad and bat for an hour in that situation. And then to have Patto and Brooksy come in and play like that, they just keep doing it."
Asked whether he might switch his focus to regaining his England place as a batsman, he made it clear he is no mood yet to concede defeat in his ambition to reclaim the gloves as well. "If I'm keeping well and I'm batting well I don't see any reason why not to look at combining the two," he said.
Bairstow's efforts wrested a 17-run lead for Yorkshire but this match is far from won. After the Jack Brooks rampage on Sunday, Middlesex fought back well with the ball and have done so again with the bat.
At four down for 72, with two more wickets for Brooks and Compton gone first ball this time, Yorkshire may have thought they had their opponents under the cosh at only 55 in front but Dawid Malan, batting with a runner after appearing to tweak something, and James Franklin have diligently applied themselves to rebuilding work and at 127 for 4 they had a lead of 110 that could be the foundation for a challenging last-innings chase.