Eye-catching half-centuries for Dawid Malan and Harry Brook were central to giving Yorkshire a winning start to the season as they chased 211 to beat Gloucestershire on day four at Bristol.
James Bracey’s 177 in Gloucester’s second innings had threatened to derail Yorkshire’s bid for an opening round LV= Insurance County Championship victory, though the final 60 overs of the game ended up proving more than enough time to knock off the runs.
Malan came to the crease with the score at 30-2. And though he fell for 65 having faced 65 balls, with 65 runs remaining, Yorkshire were able to secure a six-wicket win, a 22-point haul and a perfect start to the Ottis Gibson reign as head coach.
Brook finished unbeaten on 56 off 48 to go with his first-innings 101. The win was secured with 10.5 overs remaining.
Make no mistake, with everything that has gone on at Headingley this winter, this victory is a huge one at the start of a new era for the club. Cricket is back and Yorkshire are winning.
The county were made to work extremely hard for the last four Gloucestershire wickets either side of lunch.
They started the day with the hosts on 253-6, and it took Yorkshire the best part of 34 overs in which to claim the final four wickets.
Bracey was the man who frustrated them the most, firstly completing a 104-run partnership for the seventh wicket with Pakistan spinner Zafar Gohar (40) and then later pulling Haris Rauf for three big sixes over long-leg to take the lead beyond 200 after lunch.
The Gloucestershire innings was wrapped up 25 minutes into the afternoon, with Patterson and Rauf equally sharing the wickets in decent batting conditions.
Bracey’s career best score was accrued in almost eight hours at the crease, and he only really showed any significant aggressive intent once his side were nine wickets down.
The first wicket of the day to fall went to Rauf, who had his compatriot Gohar expertly caught head high to his left by Lyth at second slip for 40.
That was the first of two wickets in as many overs during the second half of the morning as Patterson then trapped Matt Taylor lbw, leaving Gloucester at 316-8 in the 104th over of their innings – a lead of 167.
Bracey brought up his 150 off 297 balls within 20 minutes of the lunch break, and it wasn’t until afterwards that Yorkshire had further success.
Josh Shaw edged Rauf behind – 335-9 and a lead of 186 – with Yorkshire’s overseas debutant finishing only his fifth career first-class appearance with three wickets in each innings and match figures of 6-177 in 43 overs.
Those figures were dented slightly as Bracey, with only Ajeet Singh Dale for company, successfully attempted to boost the target.
He connected with a trio of pulls against short balls, depositing each over the rope at long-leg.
But Patterson – the pick of the bowlers with 4-43 from 24.2 overs – ended his stay when he had him caught at short cover, leaving his batters with 60 overs in which to seal the deal.
Lyth and James Wharton fell inside the first 17 overs of the chance to heighten the tension.
The former top-edged a pull at Taylor to Gohar running in from long-leg before Singh Dale bowled Wharton through the gate and rocked back leg-stump, leaving the score at 30-2.
That score advanced to 54-2 at tea, leaving the equation at 157 more to win in a minimum of 37 overs.
Having had their authority in this game eroded by Bracey’s highly impressive resilience, it was reasserted inside the opening 10 overs of the evening.
Despite the loss of George Hill for a crucial 36, the visitors more than doubled the score by adding 59 runs.
Malan was the instigator in that he swept left-arm spinner Gohar over mid-wicket for six and took three boundaries off one Singh Dale over – one pulled and two handsomely driven over the top.
When Hill chipped Singh Dale to mid-wicket, in the 33rd over, the visitors had fallen to 111-3, needing another 100 to win in just under 28 overs.
The England man reached a run-a-ball fifty shortly, by which time Yorkshire were well on their way to winning in the opening week for the second time in three years.
The left-hander fell when he tried to clear the ropes off Gohar for a second time, this time caught on the deep mid-wicket fence by Ryan Higgins as the score fell to 146-4 in the 39th over.
Brook and fellow Harry, Duke, then confidently knocked off the remaining runs, sharing an unbroken 67. Duke finished unbeaten on 17 to ensure there were no further dramas.