GARY Ballance and Jack Leaning led the way as Yorkshire battled back from 9-2 during the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship Roses match at Emirates Old Trafford.

Lancashire struck early as Adam Lyth and Alex Lees both fell inside five overs – but Ballance made 74, Jack Leaning 54 not out and Andrew Hodd 41 not out in a closing score of 251-6 from 96 overs.

The scenario certainly could have been worse for Andrew Gale's side, who included opening bowlers Ryan Sidebottom and Jack Brooks for the first time this season, but it also could have been better.

"We're a bit disappointed that we didn't get a few more partnerships early on," said Gale.

"We feel it's a decent pitch. It's going to deteriorate, hence why we batted first, but Jack Leaning showed his quality there. It's been a while coming and hopefully he can kick on.

"He hasn't looked out of nick, he just needed a score. Hopefully this will kick-start his season. We all know what he's capable of."

Yorkshire won the toss against a host side missing new-ball seamer Kyle Jarvis, who fractured his left thumb in training on the eve of the fixture.

Then midway through the 11th over, their other opening bowler Jimmy Anderson went down clutching his right groin.

England spearhead Anderson had already given a glimpse of the kind of impact he could have by taking a catch at third slip and bowling Lees before pulling up midway through his delivery stride.

He left the field with figures of 1-5 from 5.3 overs and did not return. It would be a surprise if he takes any further part in the match.

That left Lancashire with only two specialist seamers in Ryan McLaren and Tom Bailey and as many specialist spinners in Stephen Parry and Simon Kerrigan.

But McLaren and Parry were particularly impressive as they tied Yorkshire's batsmen down and chipped away at the wickets throughout the day, taking three between them.

Lyth edged Bailey low to Anderson's left towards the end of the fourth over before Lees shouldered arms and was bowled by an Anderson in-swinger at the start of the fifth.

Ballance then continued his stunning start to the season in front of England's national selector James Whitaker.

He shared 81 inside 33 overs for the third wicket with Peter Handscomb either side of lunch before the Australian was lbw to McLaren for 29, leaving Yorkshire at 90-3 in the 37th over.

Ballance, who now has 1,101 runs in all cricket this summer, and Leaning then put on 48 for the fourth wicket.

Given his impressive form, it was a major surprise to see Ballance – who hit 11 fours in 163 balls – fall when miscuing a wide delivery from Bailey to mid-off as Yorkshire fell to 138-4 in the 56th over.

His dismissal was the first of three wickets to fall for 40 either side of tea as Lancashire regained the ascendancy.

Leaning and Tim Bresnan both hit sixes straight and over long-on off Kerrigan before Bresnan (13) was bowled by McLaren with one that nipped back and kept low, making it 159-5 in the 67th over.

Then Azeem Rafiq, dropped on one at slip in McLaren's next, failed to make Lancashire pay as he pulled a short ball to mid-wicket on 16 as the score slipped to 178-6 in the 74th.

Thankfully, Leaning and Hodd set about a crucial seventh-wicket partnership of 73 through to close that left their side heading in the right direction again.

Leaning reached 50 off 146 balls with his second six, pulled off Bailey against the second new ball.

Gale reflected: "It looked like it was swinging a bit early doors. No-one wants to see Jimmy (Anderson) go down, for the sake of the country's cricket. But the lads dug in well and got us a decent end to the day.

"Who knows, if we can go on and get another 100, it puts us right in the box seat."

Meanwhile, Yorkshire have revealed that Travis Head will not be joining them for T20 this summer due to Australia A commitments in South Africa. They are seeking a replacement overseas player.