An absorbing day of County Championship cricket edged Yorkshire’s way after a sublime Jonny Bairstow century left the champions on 329-6 after day one against Durham.
Yesterday’s unbeaten knock of 102 was contrasting to the approach of his team-mates as he played in positive fashion, quickly reacquainting himself with the Emirates Durham ICG turf.
I can’t lie, the last ten months have been really hard for me, they have been a real struggle.
The 25-year-old has made this a favoured ground in recent times, having scored 95 in last season’s corresponding fixture to go with a T20 Blast century here last year, as well as his international 83 last Saturday.
Ex-England all-rounder Tim Bresnan also reached a half-century as an unbroken seventh-wicket partnership of 138 gave the White Rose the upper hand.
The return of Jamie Harrison was a positive for the home side; having recovered from a serious knee injury to get through 19 overs and taking 2-62 in a fixture he calls “as close as you can get to Test cricket in the first-class game”.
“I’m over the moon to be back playing first-class cricket and contributing where I can,” Harrison said.
“I can’t lie, the last ten months have been really hard for me, they have been a real struggle.”
And Harrison admitted Durham need to come out fighting today to have a fighting chance in this fixture.
“We let our standards drop a bit as a unit and relieved the pressure we built up earlier in the day but we’ve got every belief we can come again.”
With a pitch heavily tinged with green and cloudy skies gathered overhead, it would have disappointed Paul Collingwood that his side did not make more early inroads after electing to bowl.
Graham Onions was sure to remind Alex Lees when his composure waned and bat wafted with ambivalence outside the off stump, but the two openers were not forced into making too many decisions in the opening exchanges.
Too often Onions lost control of the red ball while Chris Rushworth bowled miserly without causing many problems, aside from a second-ball lbw shout Lees looked fortuitous to survive.
Yorkshire’s steady headway remained until the introduction of John Hastings and season debutant Harrison, included after Paul Coughlin was omitted through injury, almost brought them to a standstill.
The left-arm bowler claimed the game’s first wicket as Will Rhodes, possibly perturbed by scoreboard pressure, attempted a stroke into the vacant leg-side area and had his off-stump removed on 24.
Rhodes’s frustration was perhaps best characterised by a period of 31 runs scored in 19 overs preceding lunch.
Lees’s patient knock concluded when he nicked Onions behind after lunch and three more mid-afternoon wickets for 38 runs – including a stunning one-handed catch by Collingwood to remove Andrew Gale - threatened to undermine the opener’s stout resistance.
But Bairstow provided some solidity to the innings, first with Adil Rashid and then with Bresnan once Rushworth removed the leg-spinner after tea.
Aside from a Bresnan lbw appeal from Collingwood’s bowling, the pair accelerated with intent as the game began to cast adrift of Durham.
The final session yielded a whopping 154 as not even the introduction of a new ball could deter the advancements of the Yorkshire pair as the previously economical figures of Durham’s bowlers took a pummelling.
And Bairstow reached a 127-ball century in the penultimate over to set his side up ahead of today’s play.