Jonny Bairstow continued his form with a quick-fire century as Yorkshire battled back to 329/6 against County Championship leaders Durham on the first day at Chester-le-Street.
A seventh-wicket partnership of 138 between Bairstow and Tim Bresnan put their side in the driving seat after Jamie Harrison and John Hastings had taken two wickets each to leave the visitors 191/6 at one stage.
Harrison was making his first appearance for Durham since May 2014, while stalwarts Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth also took a wicket each as the home side looked to end Yorkshire’s unbeaten start to the Championship season.
England’s departure for their training camp in Spain meant Yorkshire were missing Adam Lyth, Joe Root, Gary Ballance and Liam Plunkett, while Durham duo Ben Stokes and Mark Wood were also unavailable.
Runs were never going to come easily on a gloomy morning in Chester-le-Street, but Yorkshire battled the early conditions well. Sent in to bat by the home captain Paul Collingwood, the visitors got off to a slow but solid start, as Alex Lees and Will Rhodes helped their side to an opening stand of 50. Rhodes had survived an edge from Gordon Muchall in the slips on 20, but he added just four more before Harrison clipped his off stump for the only wicket of the morning session.
Yorkshire went into the match trailing Durham by nine points, knowing a win would be a huge step towards retaining their County Championship title, but the early conditions suited a Durham attack which restricted the champions to two runs per over midway through the afternoon session. Lees was next to depart after making a promising 40 when former England international Onions found the opener’s edge which carried through to Michael Richardson behind the stumps.
A quick rain delay followed, but Yorkshire were unable to continue their stability. Harrison and Hastings removed Jack Leaning and Andrew Gale respectively, and Australian big-hitter Aaron Finch added just ten more to the total before edging to second slip, becoming Hastings’ second victim just four overs after his first.
Durham were winning the afternoon session, but as the gloomy skies began to open up, Yorkshire were at least beginning to counter-attack with boundaries.
Typical with the visitors’ batting throughout the first two sessions, Adil Rashid couldn’t build on a promising start and fell to a low catch from Collingwood. It gave Durham a second bowling point, but there wouldn’t be much more to celebrate as the seventh-wicket partnership swung the game firmly in Yorkshire’s favour. Bresnan struck 11 boundaries on his way to 66, his second half-century in a week, but his performance was overshadowed by the heroics at the other end.
Bairstow brought up his century on the final ball of the penultimate over of the day, with Yorkshire ending on a commanding 329/6, with both he and Bresnan surviving to stumps.
With just 14 overs remaining for both sides to claim their final bonus points, Durham will be keen to pick up early wickets on Monday morning and keep Yorkshire at arms length of the County Championship summit.