Hussey at the double to power Nottinghamshire
Nottinghamshire 497 for 6 v Yorkshire 178
David Hussey clearly loves Yorkshire bowling attacks, particularly on Yorkshire soil. On his last three visits, twice at Headingley and at Scarborough last summer, he has marked the occasion with a hundred and he has added another here. Only this time he embellished the gesture of appreciation by going on to reach 222 not out, the highest individual score for his adoptive county against Yorkshire. Soon there will be border controls detailed to keep him out.
His partnership of 184 with Samit Patel for the fourth wicket was also a record for this fixture and the consequence of it all is that Nottinghamshire have a lead of 319, from which they will push for an emphatic victory that only poor weather is likely to deny them, unless Yorkshire can improve considerably on a poor first-innings batting display against a strong attack. Top place in the table will change hands in any event (barring a Yorkshire win), given that Nottinghamshire have eight bonus points to Yorkshire's two.
Hussey's record Yorkshire in six seasons as an overseas player in England stands at 803 runs at an average of 133.83.
Early morning rain had left the outfield soggy and though it had tapered off to drizzle and largely stopped by the scheduled start time, it took the morning session for it to dry out enough for play, even with the benefit of Headingley's much-improved drainage system.
Nottinghamshire's bowlers had performed a solid job on day one, reacting to the challenge posed by a wicket on which they would also have batted first by maintaining discipline and good lines almost throughout, with Ryan Sidebottom particularly impressive.
Sidebottom's future is in some doubt. His current contract expires this year and, while he says he would like to finish his career with Nottinghamshire, he has yet to commit himself to the offer they have made to him and there has been speculation about a move elsewhere. Sussex are said to be interested, but a return to Yorkshire is unlikely.
On the evidence of the second day, however, he might be a useful acquisition. If anything was going to undermine their challenge for the title, it was the lack of experience in their attack and without anyone of Sidebottom's know-how in the seam department to take the pressure off Adil Rashid they let the game run away from them in the two sessions possible.
For all his potential, Ajmal Shahzad had played in only 27 first-class matches going into this one. Steve Patterson, meanwhile, is in only his 25th, Oliver Hannon-Dalby his 14th. Moreover, Shahzad is coming back from injury and as well as struggling for control he seemed to lack some of his zip. They missed Tim Bresnan, who is a canny and consistent performer at this level.
It did not help that they made two key blunders in the field, one of them at considerable cost. The dropped catch by Shahzad at fine leg as Patel hooked Hannon-Dalby cost only 20 runs but, as the scorecard shows, missing a run-out chance to see off Hussey on 93 was an expensive error.
He should have gone, too. Turning to run a second on a shot to midwicket, he was rightly sent back by Patel and would not have been in his ground as David Wainwright collected Anthony McGrath's throw in but fumbled the ball as he went to break the stumps.
Otherwise, the Australian was imperious. That Wainwright, the left-arm spinner, was so sparsely used on a pitch that had been prepared for spin owed something, certainly, to Hussey hitting him for 18 in one over, including a six and two fours.
Anything remotely short was despatched with ruthless efficiency by the Australian, who is pigeon-holed as a one-day specialist according to his international record but has amassed more than 11,000 runs in first-class cricket at an average of more than 54.
More than half those runs have been scored for Nottinghamshire, to whom he has been a splendid servant in six seasons as overseas player. Yorkshire are only too aware of how useful he has been to them, having suffered to the tune of more than 750 runs themselves.
In this match, having resumed on 35 from 44 balls, he completed his half-century off only nine deliveries more, with his eighth four. His century - the first by him this summer - came off 106 balls with 14 fours and a six, his 150 off 149 deliveries with seven further boundaries. It was steady and unrelenting, just what his side needed as they sought to capitalise on what had been an unexpected chance to bat Yorkshire out of contention.
Patel will have cursed his lack of concentration, lack of judgment, perhaps, in failing to complete hundreds in consecutive games. On 96, having played himself in patiently before giving rein to his attacking instincts, he went to carve Rashid through the covers but was betrayed by the bounce and Jacques Rudolph held a very sharp, one-handed catch off the edge at slip. His angry swishes of the bat as he walked off told their own story.
Chris Read might feel he should have made a few more also, although Nottinghamshire were clearly set on scoring at a high rate so as to advance the contest ahead of poor weather forecast for Friday. On 42, he played a loose stroke to a wide ball from Shahzad and was caught comfortably by Rashid at backward point.
Ali Brown missed out rather more obviously, bowled by Patterson for one, but Paul Franks took full advantage as Yorkshire's bowling grew ever more weary and deflated, cracking a 62-ball half-century including nine fours and a towering six off Rashid.