Yorkshire 61 for 0 trail Lancashire 278 (Smith 57, Reece 53, Prince 53, Sidebottom 3-42, Brooks 3-64, Rashid 3-77) by 217 runs
Few games of cricket, even Ashes Tests, are as wreathed in hokum as Roses matches. Apocryphal stories about them are retold until they become readings in the Gospels according to either Sir Neville Cardus or A A Thomson. At times it has even seemed that the outcomes of these encounters mattered slightly less than that they should be played in the give 'em nowt manner instilled by Emmott Robinson and Harry Makepeace.
The truth, of course, is that the results of Roses games have always mattered very much indeed, and perhaps never more so than when victory for one side seriously affects their rivals' ambitions. So the fact that Yorkshire are chasing their first title since 2001 while Lancashire are striving to avoid being relegated for the third time in 11 seasons gives the current match an extra edge it barely needs.
Yet if Andrew Gale's men needed another incentive on the first day at Old Trafford it might have been provided by the curious statistic that Yorkshire have not prevailed in any of the past 15 Roses games, a winless streak which stretches back to August 2002.
By the close of play on the first day the visitors had done the groundwork necessary to end that dismal run. Having lost the toss, they had dismissed the home side for 278, a total at least fifty runs less than par on what is currently a good batting pitch. The Yorkshire openers Adam Lyth and Alex Lees then coolly added 61 without mishap in 19 overs by close of play in a fashion markedly different to the wasteful approach adopted by some of Glen Chapple's batsmen.
The accusation of prodigality, however, cannot be levelled at either Paul Horton or Usman Khawaja, both of whom were back in the hutch inside the first over, having been defeated by the swing of Ryan Sidebottom. Horton was lbw to a ball which came back into him while Khawaja edged his first ball, which was a similar delivery, although offering a different threat to the left-handed Australian, to Jonny Bairstow.
Having been 0 for 2 after three balls, it might be argued that Lancashire did well to get to 278. That, though, would ignore the fact that batting conditions eased as the day progressed and it would also overlook the manner of some dismissals. For example, after blunting the Yorkshire attack in a stand of 96 for the third wicket with Luis Reece, Ashwell Prince played on to Adil Rashid for 53 when attempting a reverse sweep in the 23rd over of the innings. It was maybe little wonder that the South African paused at the crease, his head bowed, before trudging off.
Reece, who completed his first championship fifty since last September, and Croft lunched with their side on 121 for 3, but the beginning of every session was to prove curiously hazardous for Lancashire. Sidebottom's second ball after the resumption was swinging, full and straight, just the sort of delivery likely to pose problems for a batsman not yet adjusted to a new segment of his innings. Reece failed to make contact and could not dispute Steve O'Shaughnessy's lbw decision.
Undaunted by this, indeed almost spurred to greater aggression by loose bowling, Croft and Alex Davies added 48 in a mere nine overs until a full delivery from Brooks accounted for Croft. Then Davies, having battled in typically doughty fashion for 35 off 68 balls, drove Richard Pyrah to short extra cover, where Jack Leaning dived to pouch a fine catch to leave Chapple's men on 194 for 6.
By now the pattern of Lancashire's hectic innings seemed to be established: whenever the home side threatened a measure of dominance either their batsmen or Yorkshire's bowlers would find a way to spoil things. Five of the top seven got to 35 but none got more than 57, the score Tom Smith had made when he slashed at Brooks shortly after tea and gave Bairstow his second catch of the day. Another brief entertainment, another wicket donated.
It would be very hard to blame Smith overmuch, though. He has made seven fifties this summer and his innings against Yorkshire was completed when he was handicapped by a stiff back which may possibly prevent him bowling. None of which mattered much to Yorkshire's bowlers, who asserted their hard-won superiority in the final session by taking the last four wickets for 38 runs, Rashid removing Chapple and Simon Kerrigan in successive overs.