Bairstow, Bresnan plunder record 366-run stand
Durham 140 for 5 trail Yorkshire 557 for 6 dec (Bairstow 219*, Bresnan 169*) by 417 runs
"Greed is good" preached Gordon Gekko devoutly in Oliver Stone's 1987 film Wall Street "greed is right, greed works." And if Yorkshire's cricketers want to celebrate Monday's remarkable cricket at Chester-le-Street, they might do worse that arrange a celebratory showing of the movie at a Headingley multiplex. Bollinger and Beluga thrown in, naturally.
Its satirical content, however, might elude them; not because they are daft - on the contrary, Andrew Gale's cricketers are very astute professional men - but because against Durham their lust for runs did, indeed, work for them. On an afternoon which many Yorkshiremen will remember for as long as they can remember anything at all, Jonny Bairstow and Tim Bresnan put on an unbroken 366 for the seventh wicket. "'Ow many?" the county's disbelieving yet delighted supporters in distant Bradford or Bramley might have asked when told the news. Well, I suppose it makes a change from "Ow much?" the question unfairly put into the mouth of the caricatured Yorkshireman.
Having declared on 557 for 6, Gale then watched approvingly as his highly-skilled bowlers went to work on Durham batsmen who were utterly frazzled after spending 148 overs in the field over the best part of five sessions. At one stage, Paul Collingwood's men had declined to 81 for 5 with the skipper third out when he was leg before to Steve Patterson for nought. By the close Ryan Pringle and Scott Borthwick had restored their team's fortunes a smidgeon with an unbroken stand of 59 but this will be a helluva game for the Division One leaders to save now.
This was one of those days when one needed to keep a tight hold on a game's salient features and statistics if one was not to be swept away in a Zambezi-like deluge of facts from statisticians drunk with numbers. Let us remember, then, that Bairstow and Bresnan had already put on 138 for their side's seventh wicket when the second morning's play began. Immediately one was impressed by the manner in which they began again, carefully respecting the good balls bowled by Durham before feeding on the loose stuff.
Nonetheless, Bairstow was dropped in the gully on 106 when Pringle could only get his fingertips to a sliced drive off John Hastings. Durham's bowlers could also point to a confident leg before appeal that Bresnan survived off Pringle in the 121st over of the innings. By then, though, this underestimated allrounder had reached his century off 149 balls with 16 fours and the obligatory clenched fist. The serious records, however, had still to tumble.
At lunch Yorkshire were 447 for 6 and Bresnan's 129 not out was a career best. On the resumption Bairstow took 22 in boundaries off two Hastings overs, including an unorthodox smash for six over square leg which may have been a recognition that events were getting underway in SW19. For the most part, though, this was simply fine batting against a wilting attack. There were still plenty of defensive shots that would have done credit to Brigadier Block himself. How those broad bats must have dispirited the bowlers.
And so it went on, deep into the afternoon session. Many breaks between overs were punctuated by announcements declaring that this or that mark had been passed. When he reached his double hundred off 244 balls Bairstow's arms were aloft and his face was raised to the generous heavens yet again. "If he's not the next best bat in England, I'll eat - well, I won't say what I'll eat because people have been kept to it," said Bresnan after the close.
When the mammoth stand was finally ended, it became clear that several personal and partnership records had been established and that Bairstow and Bresnan had joined some formidable lists. Let us now give a nod to Mr Gradgrind and allow statistics their head.
Bairstow's 219 not out and Bresnan's undefeated 169 not out were their career-best scores in first-class cricket. Their stand of 366 - in 81 overs and 300 minutes, if you please - is the highest seventh-wicket partnership in the history of the County Championship, beating the 344 shared between K S Ranjitsinhji and Billy Newham for Sussex against Essex at Leyton in 1902 (it's not every day you take a record off Ranji.)
The Bairstow/Bresnan stand was also the highest for any wicket against Durham beating the 359 Mark Butcher and Ian Ward put on for Surrey's first wicket at The Oval in 2000. It is also the third-highest seventh-wicket stand in the history of first-class cricket and it is the fifth-highest stand for Yorkshire in first-class cricket, the other four all being opening partnerships.
Every landmark received its due recognition from the crowd at the Riverside. Indeed, it was the sort of afternoon when knots of visiting supporters began to applaud and one had to work out why. On occasions, though, this was difficult because no record at all had been passed or set. Yorkshiremen were clapping simply because they were so happy.
Before long they were happier still, for this was a Monday when the visiting supporters' cups - tankards, maybe - ran over with joy. That greed for runs which was exhibited with such admirable ruthlessness helped to take the wickets that fell in a grim clatter at the beginning of Durham's innings.
First Adil Rashid, cleverly brought into the attack in the ninth over by Gale, deceived Keaton Jennings with his googly and had him caught at slip by Bresnan for 12. Next over, Mark Stoneman, attempted to cut Steve Patterson but played on for 25.
Collingwood fell to Patterson two overs after tea and then Michael Richardson was unarguably leg before to Ryan Sidebottom's magnificent inswinger for 31. Gordon Muchall's second ball was a terrific yorker from Bresnan which plucked out his middle stump and sent it spinning away like a caber tossed by a Titan.
Muchall's was the last wicket to fall. It was left to Borthwick and Pringle to shore up the innings. It was left to the visiting supporters to amble into town for a celebratory sherbet or two. And it was left to Bresnan and Bairstow to make their way back to the hotel where, if there is any justice in this world, they will enjoy the sleep of the just.