A run of big scores or five-wicket hauls, as the matches come thick and fast before the international fixtures start in June, could be all that it takes to sway the selectors.
It is six years since Yorkshire’s Adam Lyth made his seven Test appearances, the promise generated by a hundred against New Zealand in the second of those at Headingley undone by a run of low scores in the subsequent Ashes series.
At 33, the Whitby-born left-hander is no spring chicken, but nor is he ready to be put out to pasture, and with neither Dom Sibley, Rory Burns or even Zak Crawley having completely cemented their places at the top of the Test match line-up, there are spots to be had for anyone who can string together a convincing run of form.
Lyth is certainly in convincing form at present, the opener following his century against Glamorgan last week – the 25th of his first-class career – by coming agonisingly close to another in Canterbury.
Lyth’s 97 – as Yorkshire totalled 358-8 on day one after winning the toss – followed innings of 52 and 115 not out against the Welsh club at Headingley.
Technically, it is five successive scores of fifty-plus for Lyth since he returned from a calf injury for the final pre-season friendly against Durham MCCU, against whom he made 52 and 50 retired out. Whether he can come again at international level remains to be seen, but there are few better batsmen in the county game.
Ultimately, it is three-figure innings that are likely to persuade the selectors to take another look, and Lyth’s frustration was palpable that today’s newspapers would be recording the ninth ninety of his first-class career as opposed to first-class century No 26.
After a swathe of stylish strokes, particularly through the covers to the short-square boundary on the indoor school side of the St Lawrence Ground, Lyth fell to something of a nothing shot at pace bowler Matt Milnes, not fully committing to a push outside off stump to give Ollie Robinson the fourth of five catches behind the stumps.
It was a wasteful end to a fine innings, Lyth momentarily making to smash down the stumps in frustration before wisely settling for an angry swish at thin air as he exited the scene. It mirrored a slightly profligate day for Yorkshire all told as a platform of 124-1 was not built upon to the extent that they would have liked, although they still have excellent runs on the board and they just swung things back in their favour towards the day’s close.
“I thought we finished the day with a good score,” said first team coach Andrew Gale. “Lythy helped to set the tone up front and I thought he deserved to get three figures, carrying on from where he left off last week.
“Hopefully we can keep them out there in the field for a good half-hour, an hour in the morning and then put the ball in good areas for long periods. We’re well in the game and whenever you bat for a day, you’ve got a chance.”
In bitterly cold weather beneath overcast skies, which later gave way to watery sunshine, Yorkshire began as if this was a T20 game. Amid a blizzard of boundaries, they were 27-0 after three overs and 50-1 after seven, Tom Kohler-Cadmore the man out when he was strangled down the leg-side by Darren Stevens.
When Yorkshire last played Kent in 2019, the visitors winning by 433 runs at Headingley, Stevens scored a career-best 237 and took seven wickets. Yesterday, a man who turns 45 on April 30 was named, along with Kent team-mate Zak Crawley, as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year, a tribute to his remarkable longevity.
It was just as well that Stevens was mainly on the money, although there was not much pace or bounce to interest the bowlers. Harry Podmore, his new-ball partner, struggled, Lyth picking him off for fun as Kent leaked runs with Podmore later going off injured clutching his stomach.
Podmore did take a wicket, a second strangle arriving just before lunch to end Tom Loten’s encouraging 27 and stand of 96 with Lyth. Joe Root again fell cheaply, nibbling Milnes to the keeper shortly after lunch, before Milnes ended Lyth’s 116-ball innings which contained 15 fours.
Harry Brook, who made 40 and 60 against Glamorgan, compiled a fine 54 from 80 balls with eight fours, sharing 69 for the fifth wicket with Jonny Tattersall.
Miguel Cummins, the West Indian pace bowler, fired one into Brook’s pads to trap him lbw, while Tattersall fell on the stroke of tea, the former Yorkshire batsman Jack Leaning removing him with his first ball when Tattersall threw the bat at a wide one and edged to slip.
Dom Bess (36) and Jordan Thompson (34) added 52 for the seventh wicket, Stevens removing both with the second new ball, lbw and caught behind respectively, with Bess the all-rounder’s 550th first-class wicket.
As evening fell and the temperature plunged, Steve Patterson (34) and David Willey (25) saw Yorkshire to their third and fourth batting points in an extremely handy stand of 59.