Same old story for the County as Yorkshire turn the screw

Alex Lees made 138 in Yorkshire's second innings of 546-3
Alex Lees made 138 in Yorkshire's second innings of 546-3

Northamptonshire face an intense test of their mettle on the final day of their LV= County Championship clash with Yorkshire.

Ninety-six overs will need to be somehow negotiated if the run of four straight defeats is to be halted and shouldn’t even contemplate the 366 that are left of the target because that simply won’t be threatened.

It wasn’t quite an exact case of deja vu but it was all too similar to what has gone before as a lengthy stint in the field was followed by a calamitous response.

James Middlebrook, Stephen Peters and David Sales were sent for a shower in the space of 14 balls as Tim Bresnan and Jack Brooks made good use of the new ball with batting, which had looked a doddle while the visitors were doing it, resembling a tricky mathematical problem.

The history of the game is littered with such instances but that won’t be of any consolation to the hosts who are stuck in quicksand with no sign of rescue.

Matt Spriegel and Rob Keogh made it through to the close comfortably enough at 66-3 but the County need to discover some steel that hasn’t been evident if they are to get out of jail.

Earlier in the day, if Northants were going to get back into the game, and it wasn’t a ridiculous notion despite their wicketless efforts yesterday, then they needed to make some inroads with the second new ball - which they didn’t.

In fact, they barely looked like taking a wicket at all as Adam Lyth and Alex Lees picked up where they left off last evening.

But while the latter struggled with his timing right up to the time he tiredly miscued Spriegel to mid-on, the opposite was true for the former.

For eight hours and against 398 balls, the left-hander defended diligently, attacked selectively and timed sweetly without giving a sniff of a chance and at no stage did he appear to waver in his concentration.

Especially strong through cover and behind square on the leg-side, Lyth found the boundary 31 times and cleared it once and was visibly elated when he reached the double century mark.

The opening stand had progressed to a mammoth 375, breaking numerous records and equalling the largest on this ground by Rob White and Mark Powell against Gloucestershire in 2002, when Lees departed.

It might seem a touch mean to suggest that his innings wasn’t particularly memorable - it’s difficult to recall a single shot he played - but that isn’t a crime and you could be hearing a lot more about him in the not too distant future.

Lyth continued on to 230 with no fuss and it was a surprise when he edged the persevering Andrew Hall behind and Aaron Finch, promoted to number three to add some impetus, made a run a ball half century without breaking sweat before thumping a drive off Maurice Chambers to extra cover.

In the late rush, Jack Leaning reached a maiden first-class half century before the declaration came on 546-3 leaving the hosts with a daunting 432 to win or, more realistically, 120 overs to survive.