Yorkshire 421 for 7 (Leaning 118*, Brooks 94*, Ballance 74) v Lancashire
When deprived of time, cricket takes comfort from intensity. So it was in this Roses match when the players emerged from the dressing-rooms after five phone-goggled hours with Yorkshire's batsmen seeking to establish a substantial first-innings score. We thought that Gary Ballance might then seek to put Lancashire's top order under the particular pressure that only a few overs late in the day can apply. All that had happened in the 19 balls bowled before mid-morning rain swept in from the west was that Andy Hodd had played on to Tom Bailey and 14 runs had been scored. Now battle could be rejoined in a long evening session.
But battle was not truly joined. Instead, travelling supporters were treated to the satisfying spectacle of Jack Leaning making his first century since June 2015 and the deliciously unexpected one of Jack Brooks making his highest first-class score and ending the evening playing a Boycottesque forward defensive in the hope that he will be allowed to score the six runs that will take him to a maiden century in the morning. Yorkshire are now 421 for 7 and they have seized control of this game. Leaning and Brooks' unbroken stand of 165, an eighth-wicket record for Roses matches, has ensured that their team should not lose the match. It seems longer than a day's play since Yorkshire were 178 for 6; since then they have scored 243 runs for the loss of Hodd's wicket.
The anticipation principle also applies to spectators, of course. Sometimes it is the waiting that makes one's pleasures particularly enjoyable, although by most accounts Henry VIII did not subscribe to this view in the case of Anne Boleyn. Thus the hardy souls who had spent the middle of their Saturdays frowsting in the Old Trafford pavilion watched the last 37 overs of the day with even greater interest and if they wore the eleven-petalled White Rose, they were repaid by the beguiling sight of Leaning supporting Brooks, who went from 50 to 94 in 35 balls, hitting three further sixes in the process. Having spent their afternoon draining a glass or two in the afternoon, Yorkshire supporters suddenly found that their cups runneth over.
Brooks' pleasure can only be guessed at this evening and his celebrations, should he reach a century, may keep social media buzzing tomorrow, even on a day when a few association football matches are taking place. He reached the fourth first-class fifty of his career when he skewed a drive off Stephen Parry just past Haseeb Hameed at midwicket. Yet the somewhat fortunate fashion in which Brooks reached his landmark did not reflect the good sense and clean hitting which characterised his innings. Brooks has always been a capable if uncomplicated batsman, even if farming the bowling is an alien concept to him, something which Yorkshire's England batsmen have discovered to their cost and mirth. Now he has the chance to do something very special; if he succeeds, his opening overs may be worth watching, too.
Yet all this jollity was only made possible because Leaning and Hodd had batted so well on the first evening of the game and while the vaudeville of Brooks' straight drives and lashes over cover and midwicket should be properly applauded, the merit of Leaning's understated contribution is worthy of even greater credit. Last season was tough for a player who many critics believe capable of winning representative honours. Leaning played in only nine of his county's Division One fixtures in 2016 and his application in this game was all the more admirable.
He reached his century with a back-foot four off Simon Kerrigan, whose accuracy on a slow wicket was nothing like the equal of his colleague, Parry. But both bowlers came in for punishment after Leaning had reached his century in exactly six hours with half a dozen fours and a couple of sixes. Lancashire's captain, Steven Croft, sorely missed the presence of Jimmy Anderson, who will have a scan on his groin injury on Monday, and also that of Jordan Clark, who was ruled out of this match with a back problem.
Once Anderson had limped off the field on the first morning, Lancashire's attack immediately looked thin but it took a day or so for Yorkshire's batsmen to expose its full limitations. They eventually did so on a glorious Saturday evening and with the greatest relish. Jack Brooks - The Centurion? One fancies that Roy Kilner is laughing his head off.
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications