Yorkshire eye victory at Hampshire after stunning Gary Ballance century

Yorkshire's Gary Ballance scored an unbeaten century at Hampshire. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comYorkshire's Gary Ballance scored an unbeaten century at Hampshire. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Yorkshire's Gary Ballance scored an unbeaten century at Hampshire. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
TO achieve three wins from their last four County Championship games, which is what they feel they will probably need to take the title, Yorkshire must win at least one of their two away fixtures – either here against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl, or against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in their final match.

There is no time like the present, as the saying goes, and they will never have a better opportunity than the one that they have skilfully created in Southampton.

Heading into day four, with conditions once more forecast to be cloudy and dry, as they have been all game, Yorkshire have Hampshire 26-2 in their second innings, eyeing a fanciful target of 393.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Victory would be Yorkshire’s sixth in 11 Championship matches this season and significantly enhance their title hopes ahead of home meetings with Somerset at Scarborough next week and then Warwickshire at Emerald Headingley. Put simply, win this game and they are right in the mix, the handicap of having carried forward the fewest number of points from the group stage effectively eradicated.

Yesterday was all about creating a platform for the bowlers to exploit. Against a Hampshire attack crucially missing pace men Kyle Abbott and Brad Wheal, who have suffered ankle and knee injuries respectively in this game, Yorkshire seemingly put the contest beyond their opponents, turning the screw as remorselessly as a torturer – paid by every scream and dislocated limb – turns a rack.

Gary Ballance led the way with an 85-ball hundred, his fifth in his last seven first-class innings at this ground, where he has amassed 1,150 first-class runs at an average of 82.14.

Tom Kohler-Cadmore struck a fine 89, more than doubling his previous highest score in the Championship this year, and George Hill chipped in with a gritty 55 and Jordan Thompson an explosive 33 before Hampshire – stretched out and begging for respite like a rack victim – staggered through to stumps, their vital signs functioning – but only just.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We’re in a good position, and hopefully we can go on to force the win,” said Ballance, who faced 86 balls in total for an unbeaten 101 that contained four fours and seven leg-side sixes – five off left-arm spinner Liam Dawson, two off Hampshire captain James Vince.

“We know we’re going to have to work hard; they’ve still got some good batters to come in, but I think if we bowl like we did in the first innings we’ll create eight chances.

“It was nice to contribute and for whatever reason I like batting here, but I have to give a lot of credit to the guys who batted above me, especially Hilly and Tom. They did all the hard work, put us in a great position, and then I came in and slogged a few and luckily a few came out of the middle of the bat.”

As well as Hill and Kohler-Cadmore played, the second-wicket pair extending their stand to 121 inside 56 overs after Yorkshire had begun the day on 34-1, 114 ahead, it was Ballance who injected the critical impetus.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Yorkshire scored 68 runs in the morning in 31 overs and only 27 in the first 19 overs of the afternoon, at which point it felt as though things were drifting a touch, with the injury-hit hosts adopting a suitably defensive strategy.

But as soon as Ballance launched the first of his sixes, a slog-sweep off Dawson towards the Nursery Ground side, Yorkshire’s pace gradually increased from snail-like to greyhound, 183 runs arriving in the next 25 overs either side of tea before the declaration came.

Kohler-Cadmore, hitherto patient, joined in the action, launching Mason Crane for successive sixes over long-off before the leg-spinner had him pulling to deep mid-on, 11 short of what would have been a well-deserved hundred; Hill had earlier been caught behind driving at Ian Holland.

After Harry Brook holed out to deep mid-wicket, Ballance and Thompson almost broke the accelerator pedal with a stand of 59 in 5.1 overs, Thompson striking four fours and two sixes before skying to long-off in front of the pavilion.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Dom Bess got a tickle through to the wicketkeeper trying to pull before Ballance registered his first hundred of the campaign at a venue where he also made the highest of his four Test centuries – 156 against India in 2014.

Ben Coad had Holland brilliantly caught by Brook, low and one-handed to his left at third slip, as Hampshire slipped to 9-1 in their second innings, Bess landing the second blow in the penultimate over when Tom Alsop popped one up to Ballance at silly mid-off.

Yorkshire batsman Will Luxton has been named in the England U-19s squad for the forthcoming six-match series against the West Indies.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.