AFTER Adam Lyth batted throughout the entire innings against Leicestershire at Grace Road five years ago, scoring a brilliant 248 not out, he was asked to comment on the unusual feat of carrying his bat.
“I’m always carrying it,” he said, sounding surprised. “I carry it with me all the time.”
Lyth, who was soon brought up to speed with the term, nearly carried his bat for a second time at Scarborough yesterday, but on this occasion there was no whimsical undertone.
For when the opener was last out for a splendid 68, the Yorkshire first innings score stood at just 113, Essex replying with 188-8 in a dramatic start to the 131st Festival.
Lyth, who made 60 per cent of his side’s runs, put Yorkshire’s batting into grim perspective before a crowd of 5,372.
Once again, the top-order failed as surely as night follows day, the hosts crashing to 25-5 inside nine overs against Mohammad Amir and Jamie Porter.
Amir, the Pakistan left-armer, bowled brilliant fast out-swing on his way to 5-18 from the Trafalgar Square end.
Porter, the 24-year-old right-armer, also found delightful shape as he returned 3-44, Ravi Bopara claiming the other two wickets with his medium-pace.
Along with Lyth, who faced 93 balls and hit nine fours, most of them trademark shots through the covers, the only other batsman to reach double figures was Adil Rashid (12), while Lyth’s last-wicket stand of 39 with Ryan Sidebottom was the highest of the innings.
Essex were extremely well placed at 139-4 in the final session only to slip to 144-7, their own batting showing signs of weakness.
They still ended day one in much the better shape, seeking a win that would significantly strengthen their title hopes and possibly kill off those of the hosts.
After the leaders exercised the right of the visiting side to bowl first, Amir struck in his second over.
Alex Lees was adjudged caught at fourth slip off a combination of bat and pad for an 11th-ball duck, while Harry Brook fell in the next over when he pushed hard at Porter and was caught behind.
Yorkshire had requested Brook’s release from England Under-19 duty against India due to the unavailability of Shaun Marsh, the Australian overseas batsman who was struck a glancing blow on the head during last week’s T20 game against Derbyshire and suffered concussion.
Brook will rejoin the Under-19s after this match, which looked like finishing a lot earlier than the Scarborough bean counters would have wished as wickets continued to tumble with indecent regularity.
Three of them fell for one run inside three overs as Tom Kohler-Cadmore was bowled through the gate by Amir, Jack Leaning then following to a catch behind after being drawn forward by Porter and Tim Bresnan going lbw to Porter for a second-ball duck.
None of the Yorkshire top-six in this game are averaging 30 in this year’s Championship, and the hosts slid to 49-6 when Bopara trapped Rashid lbw as tried to whip to leg.
Bopara struck again to have Andy Hodd caught behind, and when Amir returned after an opening spell of 2-9 from six overs, he had Jack Brooks flicking to square-leg and then bowled Ben Coad with successive balls as the hosts slid to a sorry 74-9.
Sidebottom kept out the hat-trick delivery and fought hard alongside Lyth, who seemed to be playing a different game to his colleagues, advancing to a 69-ball half-century without much ado.
With nine wickets down, lunch was delayed for an extra eight overs or until the last wicket fell, Lyth and Sidebottom holding out until the break despite a miscalculation that saw the umpires remove the bails after seven extra overs and spectators filter on to the field for their lunchtime wanderings.
There was a delay while the outfield was vacated, with old men hobbling off as quickly as they could and children reluctantly stopping their impromptu games, before lunch was eventually taken at 111-9.
Lyth fell to the eighth ball after the break when he edged Amir to solitary slip Varun Chopra, who then perished in the fourth over of the Essex reply when he was lbw to Brooks, who was picked ahead of Steve Patterson.
Coad had Nick Browne caught behind, the batsman appearing to show dissent at umpire Billy Taylor’s decision, and Essex tumbled to 46-3 in the next over when Bresnan trapped Dan Lawrence lbw.
Bopara slapped the sixth ball of the evening session to square-leg, providing the scorebook curio of ‘c Brook b Brooks’, leaving the visitors 81-4.
Ryan ten Doeschate and Adam Wheater added 58 in 15 overs before the splendid Coad found Wheater’s outside edge, sparking a wobble as Coad then had James Foster caught at second slip before Sidebottom pinned Paul Walter in front.
Simon Harmer flashed Brooks to second slip in the final stages, but ten Doeschate stood firm to finish on 61 from 83 balls with eight fours.