David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps
Yorkshire 73 (Evison 4-13, Fletcher 3-31) 169 for 3 (Lyth 74) trail Nottinghamshire 296 (Clarke 109, Evison 58) by 54 runs
Nottinghamshire's Championship challenge was deflated within nine balls of the second morning at Trent Bridge. With the last pair at the wicket, they needed another eight runs to get a priceless third batting point. They managed only four and as a consequence now need the highly unlikely scenario that none of the top three will pull off a victory.
They also need to beat Yorkshire and, although that looked to be a formality when they hustled them out for 73 in only 29.2 overs in the first innings, a doughtier response in the follow-on - led by Adam Lyth's unbeaten 74 - guarded against further embarrassment for the White Rose (in the short term at least) after they made 108 and 117 against Warwickshire last week.
Andrew Gale, Yorkshire's coach, was refreshingly open about the fact that Lyth would have been dropped if Gary Ballance had not been left out on the morning of the match because of illness. "Until Gary got ill, Adam was going to be left out for this game after the run of form he has had," he said. "He had a great start to the season and put his name in the hat for an England recall but for whatever reason since then he hasn't got the runs he would have liked. Maybe going out there knowing it was his last knock of the season freed him up a bit."
Yorkshire's belief system is built around their conviction that nothing is more important than the County Championship and, as it is increasingly pushed to the margins by the ECB, the psychological effects will be more deeply felt around the county more than anywhere else.
Imposing the follow-on did not go smoothly for Nottinghamshire. In afternoon sunshine, the ball stopped swinging, the pitch became more docile and Yorkshire, not for the first time when behind the game, discovered some backbone. They closed at 169 for 3, the deficit cut to 54.
Yorkshire's recovery unravelled, however, when they lost two wickets in the last two overs of the day. Tom Kohler-Cadmore fell one run short of what would have been only his second Championship half-century of the season when he was trapped on the back foot by Liam Patterson-White's arm ball. The nightwatchman, Matt Fisher, then missed a straight one from Dane Paterson. Any satisfaction in the Yorkshire dressing room over Lyth's scrapping innings, his best Championship score since April, was suddenly tempered.
That lost Nottinghamshire batting point came when Jordan Thompson seamed back the ninth ball of the day to have Joey Evison lbw without adding to his overnight 58. It was a marginal call. Notts had begun with a flourish when the No.11, Dane Paterson, walloped Ben Coad's second ball to the midwicket boundary. Paterson briefly looked in a daredevil mood, but he felt obliged to turn down a single to keep Evison, a genuine allrounder, on strike for the next over and Thompson struck.
Evison soon forgot his disappointment as he played a central part in Yorkshire's capitulation. He has no great pace, but in the right conditions, he can swing the ball and swing it late. He assured Notts of their Division One place with a maiden five-wicket haul against Durham at the Riverside in July and collected 4 for 13 in seven overs here as Yorkshire met him with gung-ho naivety.
By the time Evison began to make an impact, Yorkshire's innings was already broken. The hulking figure of Fletcher took wickets with consecutive balls, having George Hill caught at third slip and exposing Kohler-Cadmore's lack of footwork by bowling him through the gate. He took the liberty of rousing the crowd to clap his hat-trick ball like an Olympic long jumper, only to flop into the pit when the ball sailed down the leg side.
Lyth was lbw playing no shot to Brett Hutton, another touch-and-go decision. Will Fraine, giving a rare chance against his former county, got the best ball of the lot, an outswinger tight to off stump, taking Fletcher's Championship tally to 66 wickets. He must be in the running for player-of-the-year awards and, if he wins one, it will be popularly received because there is no heartier performer on the circuit.
Evison's introduction immediately brought a double-wicket maiden as he had Thompson lbw with a late inswinging yorker before Matthew Revis fell for a second-ball duck, edging an outer to second slip. But his last two wickets smacked of Yorkshire desperation. Harry Brook is one of the most promising batters in the country but trying to hit a length ball straight for six was not his greatest moment. Dom Bess later failed to cut a wide outswinger. Paterson tied up the tail - another strong performer this season, a bowler who asks questions - and took his own wicket-taking tally to 53
But the rest of the day belonged to Lyth. It was a far-from-fluent innings, and he also ran out the non-striker, Hill, with an unnecessary single when the sub, Calvin Harrison, threw down the stumps from short extra, but at least it reminded him that he can still play the game. Little more than a year ago, some critics were even asking if he would play for England again. That prospect could not sound more remote, but an occasionally callow and often vulnerable Yorkshire batting line-up needs him to rediscover his mojo for several seasons yet if they are to bat with the authority of old.
Notts vs Yorkshire