Lyth boosts Yorkshire's Championship credentials
Yorkshire 325 for 4 v Warwickshire
Headingley looks different from the fourth floor of the five-storey Carnegie Pavilion, the new home for the media here. The sweeping panorama of the field is magnificent yet in another way the move to the £21 million structure is a shame. Much better to be looking out from the old football stand than at it.
The angles may have changed but Yorkshire are looking like title contenders from any perspective. Warwickshire's bowlers put in a solid shift in sweat and drive but could not do enough to undermine Yorkshire's resolve, even on a pitch that never allowed a batsman to feel entirely comfortable.
The First Division leaders go into the second day only four down and with enough runs on the board to feel they may yet bat Warwickshire out of contention. Given a solid platform by Adam Lyth and Anthony McGrath, who put on 148 for the second wicket after the early loss of acting captain Jacques Rudolph, they prospered in the last session as Jonathan Bairstow and Gerard Brophy shared a stand of 98 for the fourth wicket, Brophy needing eight more to complete his second first-class century for the county.
Lyth's 84 was not his most fluent innings of the summer yet it took him to 1,066 runs for the season, giving him the honour of being the first to pass 1,000. Stephen Peters is 17 short after being dismissed for 76 against Glamorgan in Northampton.
Given their contrasting fortunes this season, Yorkshire's position at lunchtime - one down for 119 after winning the toss - might have reflected a routine morning against a side beaten six times in the Championship so far. Yorkshire won at Edgbaston at the start of the season and their only blip to date is a defeat at Somerset.
In reality, Warwickshire's bowlers performed commendably well and were unlucky not to find more success. Rudolph, still to win a game as Yorkshire's captain, won the toss in the continuing absence of Andrew Gale and opted to bat first, but what looked like a good batting track proved less than straightforward.
Indeed, Rudolph was a casualty in the third over, nudging a catch to second slip as he followed a ball slanted across him by the left-armer, Neil Carter. It marked the start of a difficult passage for the batsmen against some testing bowling. There was nothing untoward in the way of lateral movement off the pitch but the combination of swing and variable bounce meant that awkward moments came along quite frequently.
The bowlers could have had better luck. Boyd Rankin beat the bat a number of times without finding the edge and Rikki Clarke, the unluckiest, almost had Lyth caught off a leading edge on 42. Had Imran Tahir moved in just a little more quickly, a catch at mid-off was there for the taking.
Both Lyth and McGrath survived confident lbw shouts and Steffan Piolet, a medium-pacer making his Championship debut, suffered frustration again when McGrath was missed by Clarke at second slip on 41. It was a hard chance off a firm stroke but one that probably should have been held. McGrath might have been run out, too, had Jim Troughton spotted the opportunity when he dropped his bat.
In the event, McGrath completed his 10th half-century of the season, all of which have come in his last 11 innings. Without the cares of captaincy now, the former England allrounder is batting with his old freedom and he was more convincing here than Lyth, even though the younger player outscored him.
Where McGrath has doubtless disappointed himself is in turning only two of those half-centuries into hundreds and another chance slipped by here as he was out for 57 as Warwickshire made a double breakthrough in mid-afternoon. Carter, with another slanted delivery, was the successful bowler, Darren Maddy clutching a low catch at slip.
Clarke's luck was out again in the next over as Lyth was dropped by Maddy off his bowling on 81 but the miss was not expensive, Carter pinning the left-hander leg before with a full length delivery that attracted little argument. Lyth had hit 13 boundaries and his stand with McGrath was worth 148.
His dismissal left Yorkshire with two fresh batsmen at the crease at 156 for 3 and Warwickshire could see a chance to swing the day back in their favour. Restricting the home side to 73 runs in the afternoon was a step in the right direction.
But Bairstow and Brophy built another partnership that can only increase confidence in the Yorkshire dressing room. With Gale required by England Lions and Joe Sayers still out with respiratory problems, Yorkshire's batting seems on paper to lack a little depth but the fourth-wicket pair, in competition for the wicketkeeping gloves, matched each other for runs.
Bairstow benefited from a couple of loose deliveries from Maddy, one of which he whipped away for a legside six, but Brophy found his range too, hitting seven fours in reaching 50, his first half-century in the Championship since he scored 85 against the same opposition at Scarborough last August.
Piolet claimed his first Championship wicket when Bairstow perished to a ball that kept low and might have had another when Adil Rashid drove one straight back at him, having scored only two. It was a difficult chance, just too sharp and too close to the deck for the young allrounder to get a full hand behind. It was also the last of the day.