Maturing Lyth patiently back to form against the old enemy

Milestone: Yorkshire's Adam Lyth celebrates his century against Lancashire.''Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix
Milestone: Yorkshire's Adam Lyth celebrates his century against Lancashire.''Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix
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ADAM LYTH’s season began in a blaze of glory with a score of 194 against the Leeds-Bradford students.

It looked like being the catalyst for a lightning start to the County Championship season, but Lyth had managed only 90 runs in seven Championship innings heading into this Roses fixture.

The 29-year-old is too good a player for that state of affairs to have continued indefinitely, and he brought an emphatic end to the sequence with his first hundred in the tournament this year.

The left-hander scored exactly 100 on day two of the match at Headingley, the 22nd century of his first-class career, and also the most patient and persevering.

Renowned as a dasher and destroyer of bowling, with a wonderful eye and a cover-drive to die for, Lyth’s average number of balls faced for his previous 21 hundreds was 173.

His all-time fastest first-class century came from 122 deliveries, when he also scored exactly 100 against Lancashire at Old Trafford in 2010.

On Saturday, he took his slowest route to the three-figure mark, which he reached from 233 balls in five hours and 14 minutes.

Lyth, whose first 50 comprised 125 balls, took half-an-hour to add to his overnight 40 when play resumed, and later he spent 41 balls and 71 minutes in the 90s before a 2,800 crowd were treated to a familiar fist-pump of celebration.

It was a timely innings from the Whitby-born player, both from a personal perspective and in terms of the match situation, and it highlighted the maturity now in his game.

In times past, Lyth was renowned for scoring some of the most brilliant 30s and 40s you could possibly see, unfurling a range of gorgeous shots from the get-go before perishing suddenly to a lapse in concentration.

But the Lyth who defied the Lancashire attack on Saturday was the one who has come to appreciate the value of protecting his wicket and concentrating fiercely as well as attacking the bowling when the opportunity arises.

It was the performance of a man who does not get fazed and down on himself if he is not flashing a boundary every couple of overs, but one who has come to understand that there are times when you must sit back and wait for the bad delivery.

Lyth clearly enjoys batting against Lancashire. In 11 Championship matches against them he has scored 712 runs at an average of 47.46, including a career-best 251 at Old Trafford in 2014.

His record against them in one-dayers is not too shabby either. In five List A fixtures, Lyth has hit 214 runs against the old enemy at 53.50.

Lyth’s century on Saturday was easily the highlight of the Yorkshire first innings. Replying to Lancashire’s 123, the hosts scored 273 to gain a lead of 150.

The next-highest score was Peter Handscomb’s 33, with Yorkshire slipping from 178-3 at one point. Conditions were never straightforward for run-scoring, but if anyone made them look so it was Lyth, who hit 13 fours in total before edging behind off Jordan Clark one ball after reaching three figures.