The long-awaited return of domestic cricket finally came around yesterday, when champions Yorkshire entertained Hampshire on day one at Headingley.
With Yorkshire aiming for a third successive title there was plenty of hype around the season opener, drawing in an impressive crowd of 2,317 on a fine spring afternoon.
Sporting a red nose after enjoying the afternoon in the sun, Toby Bilton looks at five things we learned from the opening day’s play.
1: Yorkshire reliant on England batsmen
After a dismal opening session in which the hosts lost three early wickets for just 41 runs, opener Adam Lyth and fellow Ashes winner Jonny Bairstow put on a stand of 205 enjoying a fruitful afternoon session. While Alex Lees, Andrew Gale, Gary Ballance and Jack Leaning hardly troubled their opponents, Jason Gillespie and his coaching staff may be wary of becoming over-reliant on the England duo.
2: Lyth knocking for an England recall
While Jonny Bairstow enjoyed a fine winter in South Africa with the England side, Adam Lyth was left at home to enjoy Christmas with his family. After a disappointing Ashes series saw the Whitby-born batsmen dropped by the ECB. Lyth’s first ton in 11 months will have done his prospects of a recall no harm whatsoever. Spending 262 minutes at the crease, Lyth hit 18 fours in front of England’s national selector James Whitaker, before being given out leg before on 111 runs.
3: England contingent could dampen title aspirations
Though a place in your national team is the pinnacle for any cricketer, Yorkshire may have cause for concern if Lyth does get his desired recall. With Joe Root himself hardly featuring for his county, the Yorkshire squad may take a battering later in the summer when England play Sri Lanka in all three formats of the game. Potential call ups for Lyth, Ballance, Bairstow, Rashid, Willey and Bresnan would be sure to effect the firepower of the Yorkshire attack.
4: Hampshire’s Fidel Edwards’ bowling off par
Arguably the most experienced bowler in the Hampshire attack, the former Windies international didn’t enjoy the greatest day of his career. Pushing hard for a wicket, Edwards’s added pace was welcomed by Lyth and Bairstow, with the ball being assisted across the boundary in what was a moist and, therefore, slow outfield.
5: Headingley remains a stellar venue
Though a large majority of seats were left unfilled, the atmosphere inside Headingley remained buoyant. With Yorkshire Carnegie hosting Nottingham next door in the rugby union, the noise generated from both crowds was a pleasant reminder of what a fine venue Headingley still is. With the South Stand due to be renovated as part of plans to keep test cricket in Yorkshire, Headingley will remain one of the finest venues to watch cricket in England.