Yorkshire 333 for 7 (Bairstow 102, Leaning 77* Lyth 53, Adams 3-57 ) vs Hampshire
If there is anything disgruntled Yorkshiremen do not appreciate, it is empathy from a vaguely Lancastrian source. Nevertheless, as Adam Lyth carried the refreshments, edged the practice catches and fielded at short leg during England's tour of the West Indies, it was tempting to remember the song once made famous by the Rochdale-born Gracie Fields: "I took my harp to the party but nobody asked me to play". Nor was Lyth the only Yorkshireman unused in the Caribbean. Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid and Liam Plunkett's involvement was peripheral, leading to calls that one or more members of this cricketing string quartet should be allowed to play a melody or two for Yorkshire.
It was expected that this game against Hampshire would see all four players selected by Yorkshire for the first time this season but Plunkett's failure to appear for Saturday's final practice resulted in him not even making the team sheet. Lyth and Bairstow, though, seized their opportunities with gusto, albeit that their tunes were sharply contrasting. Lyth, all careful exposition and cautious defence, made 53 off 112 balls in 150 minutes. He was nearly run out by his partner Alex Lees in the second over of the day and was dropped by the Hampshire debutant wicketkeeper Lewis McManus when hooking on 39.
When he was third out twenty minutes after lunch, playing defensively to a good ball from Andre Adams, Lyth could return to the Headingley pavilion knowing that he had shown all the application expected of an England opener. This is fortunate given that next week that is almost certainly precisely what he will be. What is rather less wonderful is that despite being on two of England's winter tours, Lyth has now played precisely six first-class innings since last September. It is hardly preparation for facing the New Zealand seamers on one of Lord's freshest May pitches.
By tea, however, not too many of Yorkshire's supporters were talking about Lyth. That was because there were in the middle of seeing a quite outstandingly violent and effective innings from Jonny Bairstow, one of the more maverick members of the Headingley orchestra. Having arrived at the wicket when Lyth was dismissed and then watched as Andrew Gale became the admirable Adams's second wicket, caught at point for 30 off the leading edge by Michael Carberry, Bairstow seemed to disregard any slowness in the Leeds wicket. There was to be no adagio for him.
Instead, there were pulls and hooks, three of them going for six; there were delicious cuts, one or two of them brazenly late; there were punches through the covers, most of them crisply timed by a batsman at the peak of his form and confidence. In 32 overs Bairstow added 154 for the fifth wicket with Jack Leaning, who had the good sense not to try and copy his partner. Leaning seems a very astute young batsman.
Bairstow was unbeaten on 88 at tea and reached his century off 104 balls with a clip through midwicket off Adams for two. A couple of balls later he was gone, not culpably but edging a fine ball from the 39-year-old New Zealander to McManus, thus giving the Hampshire wicketkeeper a second catch on his first-class debut.
That wicket brought obvious relief to James Vince's men and they capitalised on their success when Gareth Berg removed both Adil Rashid for a duck and Will Rhodes for only four. Rashid skied a catch to Fidel Edwards at mid on and Rhodes, who probably did not expect to be playing in this game on Saturday morning nicked a catch to Sean Ervine.
That left Yorkshire on 279 for 7 and the game was more or less evenly poised. However, Tim Bresnan joined Leaning and the evening's play assumed a more sedate tempo with both batsmen restraining their natural impulses to attack.
Bresnan is an experienced cricketer and one would expect nothing less from him. Leaning, though, is just 21 and played only ten County Championship games in 2014. But he is mature beyond his years and has a quiet competence at the crease. His two fours off Tomlinson in the last hour of play were as good as anything we had seen. One was stroked through the covers and the other was driven straight and they were especially fine because they were played off Hampshire's most accurate bowler, who finished his work with 2 for 61 from his 26 overs.
Tomlinson, it was, who had made the first breakthroughs for the visitors in the morning session when he had Alex Lees lbw for a single playing no shot to the 13th ball of the match before returning to have Cheteshwar Pujara caught at slip by Sean Ervine for 18. These were important wickets and they reflected the contribution of Vince's bowlers on a day which was liberally sprinkled with accomplished batting and canny bowling.
Indeed, it was almost a relief that Yorkshire head coach Jason Gillespie had chosen to say nothing about reports linking him to the England job and the travails of the ECB. The Australian's silence left one free to follow the dictum of that legendary cricket Yorkshire Post cricket correspondent JM Kilburn: "I am here to write about the cricket," said Kilburn firmly. That great man would have enjoyed watching Bairstow bat on this balmy Sunday afternoon but he may have appreciated Leaning's innings even more.