Yorkshire 264 and 259 for 7 (Bairstow 75, Lyth 50) lead Nottinghamshire 355 lead by 168 runs
For cricketers with an abundance of talent batting is a deceptively straightforward business and Jonny Bairstow plays at his best when he remembers every word of that. Rather than grousing about whether he will keep wicket, where in the top six he will bat or what other people are saying about him, he is at his finest when he trusts some fine attacking instincts whilst also ensuring his defence is sound. Satisfying that latter proviso has been the problem for a couple of years or so, of course. A tally of one century and four fifties in his last 33 Test innings and the frequency with which Bairstow has been either bowled or lbw suggests his technique is suspect, particularly so when facing balls that jag back in to him.
Some of these frailties and much of the talent were apparent even as Bairstow made 75 at Trent Bridge on the sort of dreamy summer afternoon when Paul Morel once went walking with Miriam. However, let us take a punt that the Yorkshire batsman does not read much DH Lawrence, albeit the latter might have enjoyed writing about a man so revealingly at the mercy of his humours. Let us instead remember the 14 fours Bairstow hit in his 171-minute innings but also the trouble he found facing Zak Chappell with the new ball. Let us also note that this was the Yorkshireman's first first-class half-century since he made 52 in last August's Ashes Test at Lord's.
It is to Bairstow's credit that he battled through that early period, even though he was more or less cut in half by three balls that broke back sharply. Chapple had already enjoyed success with his first ball of the day when Tom Kohler-Cadmore was surprised by a lifting delivery and edged a catch to Matt Carter at second slip. For at least half an hour the Nottinghamshire bowler was a couple of handfuls and his potency with the new ball was revealed again very late in the day when he removed both Jordan Thompson for 33 and Steve Patterson for 4 in the same over. By then, though, Yorkshire's lead was above 150 and there is now every prospect of them setting a ticklish target for a team that has not won a first-class match since August 2018.
Adam Lyth and Bairstow's 131-run stand played the major role in giving their side that intriguing opportunity. They rode the early storm and waited for the ball to soften during a morning when batting was never easy. However, while the pair may have made the day's only half-centuries the lead was a trifling 44 when their partnership ended and it needed two further substantial stands to set up what might be a second Trent Bridge classic in the space of a week.
First Harry Brook and Jonny Tattersall put on exactly 50 for the fifth wicket and then, when Brook had been taken at slip by Steven Mullaney off Samit Patel's second ball after tea, the impressively combative Thompson shared a stand of 54 with Tattersall, who will resume on 41 not out when the final day of this game begins. Yet it remains hard to see how Yorkshire's lower middle-order could have mounted their later resistance had Bairstow and Lyth not prepared the ground. Neither man played with the fluency they sometimes own but that made their determination to battle through the first session all the more creditable.
Their stand lasted nine minutes short of three hours and it said as much about Lyth and Bairstow's mental toughness as it did about their batting techniques. For there was never a point on this third day when the bowlers' hopes were merely fond. Despite the loss of Jake Ball with what looked to be a side injury six overs into the morning, Mullaney's attack stuck to its lines on a Trent Bridge pitch that offered enough turn and variable bounce to keep the spinners interested. The skipper's deployment of Carter and Patel in the heart of the afternoon suggested he knew fine well where his team best chances lay and that strategy was richly rewarded when Yorkshire lost three wickets for one run in 18 balls.
First Lyth tried to drive Patel through the on side but merely snicked a catch to Mullaney at slip. The Yorkshire opener appeared mystified, although surely more by the manner of the dismissal than James Middlebrook's decision. Next over the prized wicket of Bairstow fell when the Yorkshire batsman clipped Carter off his hip without much conviction and saw Haseeb Hameed take a fine one-handed catch to his right at short leg. The same alliance sent Dawid Malan back to the pavilion with only a single to his name, leaving Yorkshire effectively 45 for 3. Tattersall joined Brook, who is perhaps in the best form of any Yorkshire batsman at the moment. Another wicket or two then and everyone might have been going home tonight. Instead of which we have another of those richly tantalising days in which four-day county cricket seems to specialise.