A Joe Clarke century ensured Nottinghamshire enjoyed the better of the opening day of the season-ending LV= Insurance County Championship fixture at Trent Bridge.
Clarke’s season’s best 109 off 204 balls was the centrepiece of Notts’ 292-9 from 96 overs.
The hosts can still win the Championship title as long as they claim victory here and other results go their way in Division One, while Yorkshire are chasing second place for a spot in next week’s Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s.
The latter would be secured with a win here, a positive result between Lancashire and Hampshire at Liverpool and Somerset beating Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
Ben Coad is captaining Yorkshire for the first time in the absence of injured Steve Patterson (hamstring), and he was the pick of the bowlers with 3-71 from 24 overs.
Harry Duke also claimed six catches behind the stumps and Matthew Revis his first two first-class wickets.
Coad is Yorkshire’s seventh captain of the season in all competitive cricket.
Gary Ballance, Dom Bess, Adam Lyth, Joe Root, Patterson and David Willey have also skippered the side at various stages throughout 2021.
Unfortunately, Clarke was dropped twice by Lyth in the slips – on 59 and 88 either side of tea. But Lyth was the catcher when Clarke was dismissed by Coad late in the day, ending an innings which included 15 fours and a six.
Notts will be much the happier of the two sides having been inserted in useful bowling conditions – a green pitch with swing and seam evident.
The White Rose struck three times before lunch, where Notts reached at 79-3 from 29 overs.
George Hill claimed two of them and impressed with his fast-improving seamers (2-32 from nine overs).
The hosts had made their way to 45-0 inside 15 overs through Haseeb Hameed and Ben Slater, who made 23 and 18 respectively.
Hameed was first to go when Matthew Fisher had him caught behind playing a late cut – 45-1. Fisher had swapped ends from the Pavilion to Radcliffe Road and was in the first over of his second spell.
Hill then struck in the next over with his fourth ball, Slater also caught behind pushing forwards (47-2).
And when Ben Duckett sliced a drive at Hill’s seamers to Bess at point in the 24th over, Notts were 70-3.
Patterson’s omission was one of three changes for the White Rose from last week’s defeat against Warwickshire at Emerald Headingley.
Ballance (illness) and Dawid Malan (rested) were also missing, with Will Fraine, Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Revis coming in.
While there was help on offer for the bowlers, the pitch was far from a batsman’s graveyard, as indicated by Clarke’s innings.
Fortunate given the two drops, he otherwise played confidently and was particularly proficient through the covers, both off front foot and back.
Three more wickets fell during the afternoon, which ended with Notts on 176-6 from 64 overs.
Coad had his opposite skipper Steven Mullaney caught behind for 31 by one which moved away off the seam, leaving Notts at 119-4 after 37.
Jordan Thompson then had Tom Moores the same way as the left-hander felt for one outside off-stump in the 49th – 147-5.
Sandwiched in between, Clarke reached his eighth half-century of the Championship season – off 96 balls.
The first life for Clarke came on 59 when he was dropped by Lyth at second slip off Coad, with Notts 162-5 in the 55th over.
But the stand-in skipper was rewarded for his endeavour when Liam Patterson-White edged him behind on 16, Notts falling to 173-6 in the 61st.
Clarke, 65 at tea, went to his highest score of the season with a three to deep cover in the opening over of the evening.
In the Championship clash between the two sides here at the start of 2019, Clarke hit 112 and 97 not out in a high-scoring draw. Ballance and Root also scored final day centuries.
His second life came shortly before the new ball was taken. On 88, Lyth could not hold on following an edge at the off-spin of Bess. The score was 213-6 in the 76th over.
Clarke’s century, off 194 balls, was brought up with a pulled six off Coad in the 81st over – the first with the new ball. By that stage, Notts were 236-6.
This was proving to be Notts’ most profitable period of the day, with Joey Evison supporting his more senior partner in search of imperative batting bonus points to raise their title chances.
The seventh-wicket pair shared 97, a stand broken when Coad and Lyth combined to leave Notts at 270-7 in the 89th.
By that time, Evison had reached his maiden first-class fifty off 97 balls. He would finish 58 not out.
Revis claimed his maiden first-class wicket, that of Brett Hutton caught behind by Duke – 282-8 in the 93rd – before adding his second in the day’s penultimate over when Luke Fletcher chipped to cover (292-9).