SPECTATORS at Scarborough last Tuesday were treated to a superlative innings by Yorkshire’s Adam Lyth, who scored 125 in the Royal London Cup game against Northants from 78 balls with 10 fours and eight sixes.
It evoked memories of Darren Lehmann’s famous display at the same ground against Notts in 2001, the Australian striking 191 from 103 balls with 20 fours and 11 sixes, still the highest individual innings for Yorkshire in one-day cricket.
I started my cricket writing career the previous year – I was covering that match at Scarborough in 2001 for the Nottingham Evening Post – and in all that time I have never seen an innings quite as dramatic.
In front of a festival crowd of just over 6,000, just after Yorkshire had clinched the County Championship, it was an innings that captured the mood of the club in that moment, a mood of carefree celebration after Yorkshire’s first title for 33 years.
What made Lehmann’s innings so remarkable was its rarity value at the time.
Nowadays, you wouldn’t particularly bat an eyelid if someone smashed 191 from 103 balls because the boundaries of the plausible are shifting all the time.
Back then, in the pre-Twenty 20 era, it was a different matter, and a shock to witness something quite so spectacular. I remember Clive Rice, the Notts manager, telling me afterwards that he had never seen anything like it in all his years in the game – sentiments echoed by many involved in that match.
Just how rare was Lehmann’s innings is emphasised by a glance at the record books.
At the time, there had been only eight higher individual innings in one-day cricket anywhere in the world, four of which had been achieved in England.
The highest of them, an innings of 206 by the West Indian batsman Alvin Kallicharran, was made for Warwickshire against Oxfordshire in a NatWest Trophy game at Edgbaston in 1984.
Vince Wells’s 201, for Leicestershire against Berkshire at Grace Road in 1996, was also achieved against Minor Counties opposition in the same tournament.
Graham Gooch had hit 198 not out for Essex against Sussex in a Benson and Hedges Cup tie at Hove in 1982, while the only man to have scored more runs in a one-day league fixture at the time was Ali Brown, who hit 203 for Surrey against Hampshire at Guildford in 1997.
Fast forward 15 years to the present and there have been 28 higher scores than Lehmann’s in ListA cricket.
Ali Brown still tops the list with an incredible innings of 268 for Surrey against Glamorgan in a Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy match at the Oval in 2002, an innings in which he faced 160 deliveries and hit 30 fours and 12 sixes.
But few have matched the drama of Lehmann’s display, made out of a still Yorkshire record one-day score of 352-6.
His innings lasted a mere 116 minutes, which included an eight-minute stoppage while an ambulance drove on to the field to treat a stricken spectator.