Records tumble as Lyth and Lees lift stand higher

Yorkshire's Adam Lyth (Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com).
Yorkshire's Adam Lyth (Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com).
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ADAM LYTH and Alex Lees 
recorded the highest partnership by a pair of Yorkshire opening batsmen since Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe compiled their historic 555 against Essex at Leyton in 1932.

Lyth and Lees added 375 against Northamptonshire – the best for Yorkshire since Holmes and Sutcliffe’s then world record 82 years ago and the fourth-highest opening stand in the county’s history.

Their efforts helped Yorkshire to 546-3 declared after they had been bowled out for 136 in their first innings and conceded 251 in reply to the First Division’s bottom club.

Yorkshire reduced Northamptonshire to 66-3 at stumps to take a 365-run lead going into day four of a match they have turned upside down.

Lyth top-scored with 230, made from 398 balls with 31 fours and a six.

The 26-year-old batted exactly eight hours and is now leading run-scorer in first-class cricket this summer with 784 at 71.27.

Lees made 138 from 349 balls with 14 fours.

It was Lees’s dismissal that ended the stand, the 21-year-old advancing down the track to off-spinner Matthew Spriegel and miscuing to Maurice Chambers at mid-on.

The partnership, which began at 12.17pm on Sunday and ended at 2.15pm yesterday, broke a raft of records.

It was Yorkshire’s highest for any wicket against Northamptonshire, beating the 299 for the fourth-wicket by Percy Holmes and Roy Kilner at Harrogate in 1921.

It was the highest first-wicket stand against Northamptonshire, eclipsing the 330 of Alan Jones and Roy Fredericks for Glamorgan at Swansea in 1972, and it was only 10 runs short of the highest for any wicket against Northamptonshire – the 385 for the second wicket by Ted Bowley and Maurice Tate for Sussex at Hove in 1921.

It equalled the highest first-wicket stand at Wantage Road, by Rob White and Mark Powell for Northamptonshire against Gloucestershire in 2002, and, for good measure, it was the highest stand in England this year, eclipsing the 335 for the sixth-wicket by Luke Wright and Ben Brown for Sussex against Durham at Hove last month.

The partnership was already worth 237 when play began in glorious sunshine.

The new ball was taken at 244, but it only served to fly quicker off the bat as the milestones arrived thick and fast.

When Lyth steered a delivery from Andrew Hall through third man for a single, the partnership was 280 and had passed Yorkshire’s previous highest first-wicket stand against Northamptonshire – the 279 of Holmes and Sutcliffe here in 1919.

The 300 was raised in memorable style, Lyth launching Matthew Spriegel over mid-off for the first six of the innings towards the pavilion.

Lyth again played the dominant role, cover-driving sweetly and pulling fiercely.

Lees was typically solid and dependable, occasionally opening out – such as when he pulled pace bowler Ian Butler for four in front of square.

They had lifted the score to 337 at lunch, adding 100 in the morning in 34 overs.

Lyth hit 66 runs in the session to Lees’s 26.

After the break, there was a curious incident when Lyth, on 194, made to drive pace bowler Mohammad Azharullah only for the bat to fly out of his hands and land at mid-wicket.

Two balls later, Lyth had his double hundred, pulling the same bowler to get there from 351 balls with 29 boundaries.

Lyth had a scare on 209 when he survived a confident appeal for a catch down the leg-side off Azharullah which the Northamptonshire fielders thought he had gloved.

Their mood improved almost immediately when Lees was dismissed, a wicket one sensed might never arrive.

Under the circumstances, one could only feel sorry for a fielding side when Aaron Finch walks out at No 3 with the platform of 375 runs on the board.

Given the licence to play his strokes (not that he needs any), the Australian enjoyed the second innings of his Championship debut.

He added 49 in 10 overs with Lyth, whose fine innings ended when he pushed tentatively at Hall and was caught behind.

Finch went to fifty from 53 deliveries with three fours and a six, the maximum off the spinner James Middlebrook sailing over mid-wicket.

After tea, Finch slog-swept Spriegel for six towards the ice cream van on the signal box side of the ground.

But his hopes of a hundred were dashed when he slapped Chambers to cover having hit 63 from 64 balls, Stephen Peters snaffling a stinging catch.

Finch added 62 in 13 overs with Jack Leaning, who went on to 52 – his maiden Championship half-century – when the declaration came at 4.30pm, the 20-year-old having added 60 for the fourth wicket in seven overs with Jonny Bairstow, who finished 25 not out.

Yorkshire’s total was their highest in Northamptonshire, beating the 523-8 declared at Wellingborough in 1949, and the visitors’ day was capped when Tim Bresnan had Middlebrook caught behind and Peters held at second slip, closely followed by Jack Brooks’s capture of David Sales lbw.