Adam Lyth aims to join elite group
Yorkshire v Lancashire - No play due to rain
Heavy rain could not dampen the noisy enthusiasm of rugby league fans on the other side of the football stand here as Leeds Rhinos pulled off a last-gasp win over Wigan Warriors in the Challenge Cup quarter-final, but there was only frustration for Yorkshire and Lancashire as day one of the 250th Roses match was a total washout, without a ball bowled.
No one was more disappointed than Yorkshire batsman Adam Lyth, who can see the chance to join a highly exclusive group of cricketers slipping through his grasp.
The 22-year-old left-hander began the first of the season's meetings with Lancashire needing only 147 to have scored 1,000 first-class runs by the end of May, which would place his name alongside those of W.G. Grace, Walter Hammond, Don Bradman, Tom Hayward, Charlie Hallows, Bill Edrich, Glenn Turner and Graeme Hick among those to have achieved the feat.
Hick was the last, in 1988, and no English-born player has been added to the group since Edrich in 1938. Lyth, from Whitby, would be the first Yorkshireman.
"A few people have told me that Graeme Hick was the last to do it for 20-odd years," Lyth said. "Hopefully I can get over the line but if I don't in this game it won't be the end of the world. I'd like to get to 1,000, which is something every batsman wants to do, but there are eight more games after this one."
Lyth's strokeplaying talents have been known to Yorkshire for some years, although they have taken a while to flourish since his senior debut in 2006. Last season, after former England captain Michael Vaughan returned to the county ranks and Jonathan Bairstow suddenly made a compelling case for a first-team place, he was in and out of the side, his progress seemingly stalling.
But this season, promoted to opener after batting at four last year, he has suddenly come into his own, catching the eye with a fine run of scores, culminating in 142 and 93 against Somerset, followed by 133 and 98 against Hampshire last week, when he was denied a second hundred in the match only when Neil McKenzie took a brilliant slip catch.
Being told he is the man to open the innings alongside Joe Sayers has clearly done wonders for his confidence. "Andrew Gale [Yorkshire's new captain] told me on pre-season tour in Barbados that he wanted to open with me and that Jacques [Rudolph] would bat at four, with Mags [Anthony McGrath] at three and Andrew himself at five.
"It was tough last season to be out of the side, although obviously with Vaughny coming back someone had to give way. But this has given me a massive confidence booster in my game and that's shown in the first seven Championship games.
"I can't put my form down to doing anything very different. I have just been leaving the ball well and trusting my natural instinct, to be honest. I have got all the shots. It is just that a couple of years ago I might have gone at a few early doors and got a nick. I now know how to leave the ball and cash in on width or flick off the legs when the ball comes straight.
"Talking to a few experienced players like Rudolph and McGrath, they said leaving well was the key. Let the bowlers come to you rather than go at the ball," he added. "Two years ago I would get pretty 30s or 40s and then somehow nick off. Or I would get to 80 and play a rash shot.
"But this year, touch wood, it's not so much the rash shot, it is a good ball or an amazing catch. It has not really been my own doing as such. Hopefully I have got a bit of luck with me. When I have nicked one it has gone over the fielder's head or dropped short."
The current Yorkshire group have become a draw for England's selectors and Lyth's form has been noted. Lyth is a former England Under-19 and was selected in an ECB Performance Squad last winter, yet he is keeping thoughts of further progress in international cricket at the back of his mind.
"I'm not getting too carried away with myself at the moment," he said. "I just want to keep scoring runs for Yorkshire. Then, you just never know, things might happen. If I keep scoring runs things will take care of themselves."