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Centurion George Hill and England hopeful Harry Brook both starred as Yorkshire enjoyed a dominant opening day’s batting against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.

Opener Hill played the lead role in laying the foundations for another crack at an LV= Insurance County Championship victory, his 131 off 257 balls the top score in 324-5 from 96 overs.

Brook went to 50 for the ninth time in 10 Championship innings this season, converting that into 76 off 95 balls having been released from England’s Test squad on Friday to play in Yorkshire weekend T20 and four-day fixtures.

The former Sedbergh School captains united for a third-wicket partnership of 141 inside 34 overs from early afternoon to early evening on a surface which has looked good today but has the feel of one which may deteriorate to suit Dom Bess as the game wears on.

Yorkshire have had a victory chance in five of their six Division One games so far this season, with only one converted – away to Gloucestershire in the opening game of the season.

After today’s performance, the early signs are promising that a second win can be achieved against a Hampshire side who are second in the table on 102 points, 12 ahead of Steve Patterson’s men in third.

Patterson elected to bat upon winning the toss, and there was early success as Hill and Adam Lyth shared 51 inside 24 overs.

A couple of edges fell short of the slips after Lyth had been the subject of an lbw shout from Keith Barker two balls into the match. But the openers played confidently on a slowish surface.

Lyth had made his way to 19 by the time he drove at Ian Holland’s first change seamers and edged to third slip.

Will Fraine played nicely for 20 either side of lunch, pushing down the ground, forcing off the back foot and clipping through leg for four boundaries.

Fraine was dealt a huge slice of misfortune five overs into the afternoon when Hill aimed a straight drive at new ball bowler Barker, who deflected it onto the stumps at the non-striker’s end, leaving his partner short of his ground having been backing up.

That left Yorkshire on 81-2 after 37 overs.

At that stage, the game was evenly poised. But the advantage was soon to be Yorkshire’s thanks to Hill and Brook.

Hill played superbly to back up the 151 not out he scored in the second innings of the early season draw against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.

He was strong all around the wicket, though drove down the ground particularly handsomely – two of his first three boundaries came that way – and also pulled with disdain.

Hill’s fifty came off 131 balls shortly after Fraine had departed and his hundred off 220 balls shortly after Brook had been caught at leg slip off James Fuller as the score fell to 222-3 in the 71st over.

Both men hit sixes over long-on off left-arm spinner Liam Dawson as 17 runs came off the 54th, taking the score to 148-2. Twenty-one-year-old Hill later hit another over long-on off the same bowler having reached three figures.

Brook’s form has clearly been outstanding. His haul of 916 runs is the most by any batter in this season’s Championship.

Just as telling is the fact that Brook’s nine times to 50 this season is already the same number as Sussex’s Tom Haines and Derbyshire’s Matt Critchley tallied in last year’s Championship. That was the most of anyone in a 14-game campaign. Brook has matched it in just the seventh fixture of 2022.

He also drove down the ground, as Hill and Fraine had done earlier, and played nicely through the covers. In truth, he was strong on both sides of the wicket in reaching 50 off 68 balls – by which time Yorkshire were 173-2 in the 61st over.

Having looked so comfortable, he will have been frustrated to fall caught at leg slip as he glanced Fuller’s seam off his hips 10 overs later.

Hill was bowled through the gate by South African overseas seamer Kyle Abbott, having hit 21 fours and two sixes, as the score fell to 276-4 in the 86th over.

Although Harry Duke was later bowled by Holland for 27 – 314-5 in the 94th over – Matthew Waite then saw out the day with a pleasing unbeaten 38.

Batting at number five in the order, all-rounder Waite is playing his first game of the season following a short loan spell with Worcestershire.

He has also been joined in the line-up by West Indian Dominic Drakes, the left-arm seamer who is playing what is likely to be his one and only Championship game of the season having impressed in the Vitality Blast over the last week.

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