Yorkshire enjoyed a healthy opening day with the bat against Essex at Emerald Headingley, but it wasn’t without frustration as key duo Adam Lyth and Tom Kohler-Cadmore fell narrowly short of centuries during an Essex evening fight-back.
Lyth fell for 95 and Kohler-Cadmore 83 and were two of four evening wickets to go as Essex, lacklustre before tea, hit back to reduce Yorkshire from 224-2 to 252-6.
The White Rose later closed on 289-6 from 96 overs.
Steve Patterson initially won Yorkshire’s ninth successive toss in Championship cricket, not counting games in which the toss has gone uncontested.
Lyth shared 77 for the first wicket with new opening partner Will Fraine, who made a composed 39 on his Yorkshire first-class debut following his October move from Nottinghamshire. He had been preferred to Harry Brook.
Ironically, it was Yorkshire’s highest opening stand since the 77 shared between Lyth and Jonny Bairstow in the second innings of the win over Essex at Chelmsford last May when the White Rose recovered from being bowled out for 50 in the first innings.
Fraine was the first of two morning wickets when he was bowled by one which nipped back from Sam Cook in the 23rd over.
Fraine and Lyth ran well between the wickets, although that proved to be the mode of dismissal for Gary Ballance (14) in the penultimate over before lunch.
Having initially been called back for a second into the square-leg region, striker Lyth changed his mind and sent him back, only for Sam Cook’s throw to leave him short as debutant keeper Will Buttleman completed the run out (97-2 in the 31st).
Lyth and Kohler-Cadmore, however, reasserted Yorkshire’s dominance in confident and entertaining fashion.
The third-wicket pair shared 127 inside 39 overs from late morning to early evening, both hitting sixes against the challenging off-spin of South African Simon Harmer (1-70 from 28 overs).
Lyth reached his fifty off 99 balls shortly after lunch before Kohler-Cadmore followed him there off 81.
Aside from miserly Harmer, encouraged by signs of turn from the Headingley surface, no other Essex bowler was able to build any sustained pressure before tea.
Unfortunately for Yorkshire, that was about to change as their day was downgraded from complete dominance in largely good batting conditions.
In the early stages of the evening, Yorkshire had reached 224-2 in the 69th over. But nearly 13 overs later, they were six down just beyond 250.
Lyth feathered Jamie Porter behind to spark the mini collapse.
Jack Leaning followed caught at second slip by Harmer off Peter Siddle before Kohler-Cadmore gave Buttleman his second victim as he edged behind an attempted drive at Cook.
And when David Willey was trapped lbw pushing forwards at Harmer for three, Yorkshire were 252-6 in the 82nd over, with Essex still bowling with the old ball.
Make no mistake, while this day could have been better, Yorkshire are still in a healthy state having moved towards 300 in the closing stages under sunny skies.
Essex will have to bat last on a pitch offering signs of turn, something which on-loan Somerset off-spinner Dom Bess will have been pleased to see.
Bess ended the day unbeaten on 30 and Jonny Tattersall on 20 not out.
What they said…
Yorkshire’s Adam Lyth
“I thought that was one of my best knocks for Yorkshire in a couple of years on what was a pretty good surface. But there’s a bit in it for the bowlers and a bit in it for Harmer. We’re in a decent position. If we can get above 350, I think that will be a good score on this pitch.
“I wasn’t disappointed with the shot I played (to get out), but I’m bitterly disappointed not to have got a hundred. I don’t mind getting out to balls like that if I’m brutally honest. It was slightly reversing, it pitched outside leg and I nicked it.
“Tom also played beautifully. Unfortunately, like me, he also fell short of a hundred. But I’d take 95 every day of the week, and I’m sure Tom would take 80 odd most days.
“We’re well in the game. Hopefully we continue to bat well.
“(Ballance run out) It was my fault. I owe Gaz a beer. It’s not great running the best player in the country out. I was even more determined to put in a big performance for the team after that. Run out’s probably the only way he’s going to get out at the minute, and it was my fault!
“Four down would have been perfect for us, but they’re good bowlers who toiled well.”
Essex’s Will Buttleman
“I found out from Anthony McGrath when I was having Sunday lunch with my family. I saw who the caller was and straightaway knew what it was going to be about given the situation with our keepers. So two hours later, I drove straight up here.
“I got lift in this morning with Alastair Cook, so walking into ground with him was unbelievable. It made me very proud.
“I thought it was a good day for the boys.
“We knew if we stuck around and hit our lengths – Harmer at one end, he’s hard to get away – we’d build pressure and the wickets would come. And they did. It would have been nice to get a couple more at the end, but hopefully they’ll come in the morning.”