GARY BALLANCE is calling on his Yorkshire batsmen to be more greedy and ruthless after the club lost their opening game of the Championship season.
Yorkshire went down by four wickets to Hampshire at Headingley in Ballance’s first four-day fixture since being made captain.
Ballance was the only one of the top-six to make an impact in the match, top-scoring with 120 in the first innings and with 55 in the second innings.
Otherwise, Adam Lyth made 30 and 29; Alex Lees 20 and 21; Peter Handscomb 25 and four; Jack Leaning seven and 15, while Tim Bresnan bagged a pair.
Ballance has total faith in his top-order and insists that the club have outstanding players.
However, he admits that an area that has caused the club concern for some time is one they are still trying to address.
“As a team, we’ve got some very good players,” said Ballance.
“We just need to bat better together for longer periods.
“We’ve got to be a bit more greedy, a bit more ruthless, and, when we do get those 30s, 40s and 50s, try to make them into hundreds.
“Obviously, the more hundreds you get, the more chances you’re going to give yourself to win games, which is what we need to do.”
Although Yorkshire’s top-six against Hampshire was deprived of the irreplaceable services of England Test captain Joe Root and international colleague Jonny Bairstow, neither of whom were made available by England, it was still blessed with international experience.
Only Lees and Leaning have not yet represented their country, with both hoping to press their claims in the coming months.
Yorkshire identified achieving greater consistency from their top-order as a key target going into the campaign as they look to reclaim the Championship crown.
And although it was only the first match in early-season conditions at Headingley, which can be difficult to negotiate, they are disinclined to make excuses.
“Every individual just has to look at their game and keeping working,” said Ballance.
“That’s all that we can do; just keep working hard to fire as a unit.
“I’m confident that we can do that, and, once it clicks once, that it will click for a long time.
“I’m certainly backing the guys to get us those big scores to give the bowlers runs to work with.”
Ballance had a fine game against Hampshire personally, but he accepts that he must work as hard as anyone to achieve consistency.
At the same time, he is naturally pleased with the start he has made, which followed his innings of 72 in the club’s opening first-class game of the season against Leeds-Bradford MCCU – a match in which the top-order helped post a score of 500-plus to lay the platform for an innings win.
“I’ve felt good for a while,” said Ballance.
“I just haven’t had the scores (for England in the winter).
“But that’s how it goes, and although you can feel good in the nets, you don’t score runs in the nets.
“I’m just glad that I got some runs in this game and that I can take some confidence moving forward.”
Ballance’s hundred against Hampshire asserted his authority after he took over as captain from Andrew Gale.
Gale, the club’s new first-team coach, is delighted that Ballance has made an immediate statement.
“When you take over the captaincy – I’ve been there myself – you want to show people that the captaincy is not going to affect your runs,” he said.
“You want to get that off your back early and lead from the front, so for Gary to do that in his first Championship game was brilliant.
“He’s been moving well all pre-season, and I’m really pleased for him.
“It’s difficult as captain because it’s a different pressure, but you could see the determination in his batting and he was willing to roll his sleeves up and lead from the front, which is what you want to see from your skipper.”
Gale echoed Ballance’s remarks about the top-order collectively.
He also made no attempt to hide behind the fact that it was the first match of the season.
“I wouldn’t say that we were rusty or anything like that, because we’ve had good preparation going into the season,” said Gale.
“Everyone’s had a bit of time at the crease and been feeling in good form.
“The disappointing thing is that guys got starts; the two openers had starts in both innings, for example, and didn’t go on, so you just want to see the determination that Gary showed in the other batters.
“It’s been a problem for a few years; we’re not just talking about this game, and we’re working hard to try to address it.”
Yorkshire return to Championship action on Good Friday against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.