Centurion Dawid Malan and Gary Ballance serenely guided Yorkshire into a position of significant strength after two days against Sussex at Emerald Headingley.
The White Rose wrapped up Sussex’s first innings for a commendable 313 before lunch after the visitors had been invited to bat under a grey sky on the opening morning.
The sun was out today, but they fell from 267-5 overnight, including 16-year-old all-rounder Dan Ibrahim’s record-breaking 55.
Yorkshire then replied with 272-2 from 74 overs, a deficit of only 41.
Superb Malan and Ballance, 103 and 74 respectively, shared an unbroken 177 for the third wicket from mid-afternoon onwards.
Ibrahim, aged 16 years and 299 days, became the youngest player to reach 50 in LV= Insurance County Championship history, joining Bilal Shafayat as the only other 16-year-old to do so.
Six English 16-year-olds have posted fifties in first-class cricket on these shores, including David Willey’s father Peter.
But only Ibrahim and Shafayat (16 years and 360 days in 2001 when playing for Nottinghamshire) have done it in this storied competition’s 131-year history.
In excellent batting conditions, Ibrahim was one of two morning wickets to fall to Ben Coad, who also got visiting captain Ben Brown for an impressive 127. Steve Patterson and Willey also struck.
Willey then wrapped up the innings with a brilliant direct hit run out of Jamie Atkins from mid-off at the non-striker’s end as the batsman scrambled to regain his ground following Jack Carson’s uppish drive.
Coad had Brown caught behind low down by Harry Duke with his first ball of the day – the seventh in all – with the visiting wicketkeeper adding only one to his overnight score.
Ibrahim moved from 37 at the start of play to 55 off 134 balls.
He reached his fifty off 114 balls courtesy of a second run overthrow.
Patterson also bowled Stuart Meaker and Willey trapped Henry Crocombe lbw, although Yorkshire missed out on claiming a third bowling bonus point.
Lyth pulled the second legitimate ball of Yorkshire’s reply, from Crocombe, in front of square for six as he and Tom Kohler-Cadmore comfortably faced six overs before lunch.
The pair then advanced their partnership to 83 inside 18 overs, only their third half-century opening stand of 2021.
Ironically, the other two were both against Sussex in the late April win at Hove (60 and 90).
However, they fell within the space of three overs as the score slipped to 95-2.
Kohler-Cadmore was trapped lbw by Ibrahim’s seamers for 25 before Lyth lost his leg stump to Atkins as he tried to clip a ball angled into him from over the wicket.
Malan and Ballance advanced Yorkshire’s cause in assured fashion after differing periods away from action.
This is Malan’s first game of the season following IPL duty, while he missed last week’s Roses defeat at Old Trafford due to personal reasons. Ballance missed that fixture because of a minor calf injury.
Before tea, Malan was dropped at first slip by Travis Head off Crocombe on 27, a catch which burst through the Australian’s hands and went for four.
And he reached his fifty off 72 balls with seven fours shortly after the break as Yorkshire moved to 166-2 in the 45th over.
Four of Sussex’s five frontline bowlers in this game have only 21 first-class career appearances between them, and Yorkshire’s left-handed pair were able to get on top of them and put a fourth win of the summer very much in view.
This is the first time a Yorkshire crowd have watched Malan since his move from Middlesex in late 2019, and they will have loved what they saw.
Ballance later reached his fifty off 143 balls before Malan moved into the nineties with a straight six off Carson’s off-spin.
He reached his second century in four four-day games for Yorkshire three balls before close, off 153 balls.