Yorkshire returned to the top of the LV= County Championship First Division table when they completed a comprehensive 220-run victory over Middlesex at Scarborough by bowling them out for 201.
The win put them five points ahead of second-placed Nottinghamshire and 16 points in front of Somerset, and each of the leading three sides have four matches still to play.
For a long while it looked as if Middlesex may well hold out but it was leg-spinner Adil Rashid who did much of the late damage with his season’s best figures of four for 27.
Yorkshire did not announce a declaration at their overnight 400 for five until arriving at North Marine Road on the final morning and this left Middlesex either to make 422 for victory or to bat out day for the draw.
In sunny but less humid conditions it soon became apparent that Ryan Sidebottom could not swing the ball as much as in the first innings when he captured seven for 44, the second best figures of his career, but he would still have made the first breakthrough if wicket-keeper, Jonny Bairstow, flinging himself to his right, could have on to a sharp chance offered by Chris Rogers.
Jack Brooks had looked the more dangerous of the two and he was rewarded in the next over when Nick Gubbins was caught by the acrobatic Adam Lyth at second slip, the umpires conferring to determine if the ball had carried.
Rogers, as was to be expected, was in determined mood, and he and Dawid Malan added 52 before the latter slashed at Tim Bresnan and was held by a juggling Alex Lees at first slip for 26 from 44 balls with four boundaries.
Eoin Morgan exhibited little of his natural flair as he concentrated hard on keeping his captain company and, with Middlesex going in to lunch on 89 for two, the morning’s honours had been equally divided.
It was a fine spell of bowling from Steven Patterson that raised Yorkshire’s hopes early in the afternoon session and only three runs had been added when the paceman grabbed two wickets in two balls.
His first was the prize scalp of Rogers who got a leading edge to second slip and a jubilant Lyth raised his arm high above his head upon completing the catch.
In came Paul Stirling only to depart immediately, trapped lbw, John Simpson squirting the hat-trick delivery down to third man for three.
When Patterson’s excellent spell of 7-3-14-2 ended, Rashid came on for the first time and Simpson, on 28, played him to short leg where Jack Leaning narrowly failed to pull off a reflex catch.
Survival, if not before, was now the name of the game for Middlesex, and Simpson, for the second time in the match, was a key figure in reviving the innings, along with Morgan, whose scoring shots almost came to a standstill.
The fifth-wicket pair were still together at tea when the total had limped on to 155 for four, Morgan having scratched out 14 from the afternoon session without once finding the boundary.
Simpson’s 50 shortly after the break arrived from 80 balls with five fours and the troublesome stand was worth 71 in 30 overs when Morgan’s vigil ended. He went back to one from Rashid which carried straight on and edged to Bairstow after lasting two hours and 43 minutes for his 29 from 137 balls.
Yorkshire’s late surge continued as Ollie Rayner injudiciously swept at Rashid and was caught at slip by Alex Lees off Bairstow’s glove and new batsman Toby Roland-Jones would also have gone have gone to the leg-spinner if Bairstow had managed to hold on.
Brooks came on at the Trafalgar Square end to partner Rashid in what soon proved to be a shrewd move and hastened the game towards its close.
Brooks’ second ball drifted away from Roland-Jones and found the edge to be caught by Bairstow and Rashid then had Tom Helm caught in the slips by Kane Williamson.
Middlesex’s last chance of saving the match disappeared when Simpson was also caught by Williamson, this time off Brooks, and the game was wrapped up as Tim Murtagh spooned up Rashid and was held by Lyth running round from leg slip, Yorkshire triumphing with 15.3 overs remaining.
Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie said: “At tea-time I was confident because I thought we had bowled really well in the afternoon session.
“Patterson was brilliant bowling up the hill and to get Rogers and Stirling off consecutive balls was fantastic.
“I also though Rashid bowled beautifully and his pace was the key on that surface. I was a very good win and it is nice to be at the top but there is still a long way to go.”
Middlesex skipper Chris Rogers said: “Yorkshire are a very good side and I told the guys that when you come against sides like that you need to stand up but we were outclassed in the end.
“I tipped Yorkshire early on to win the title and I haven’t changed my mind. They have a bowling attack as good as any in the country and their batters are in good form so that is a good combination.”
Read Chris Waters’s match report only in The Yorkshire Post on Wednesday.