Nottinghamshire’s bowlers spent a tough day in the field as Yorkshire reached 358 for four on the third day of their LV=county championship match against Yorkshire at Scarborough.
Andrew Gale, the Tykes’ skipper, closed on 159 not out, with Gary Ballance making an undefeated 103, with the visitors only managing to pick up one wicket during the entire day.
The unbroken stand of 237 between the two batsmen is the highest-ever produced for the fifth wicket at the North Marine Road ground.
"The state of the season, two teams in division one, they are not going to give each other an opportunity to win a game." Mick Newell
“Andrew Gale has an excellent record against us,“ reminded Mick Newell. “That’s at least three centuries he’s scored against us in the last four years. He played very well.”
The Notts director of cricket felt that his side couldn’t have done much more to alter the shape of the day.
“If you look at the day as a whole you can count on two hands the amount of times the ball beat the bat today, so that suggest there wasn’t an awful lot going on. The pitch has flattened out into a very good batting pitch as most of them have done this season over the course of four days.
“We didn’t make an awful lot happen. We didn’t drop any catches, we had one, maybe two lbw shouts so there clearly wasn’t a lot going on for us.”
Newell all but ruled out the possibility of the sides trying to set up a contrived finish on the last day.
“The state of the season, two teams in division one, they are not going to give each other an opportunity to win a game that you would expect to finish in a draw but we have to make sure we turn up tomorrow and bowl and bat very well, if necessary.”
Bright morning sunshine again greeted the players as they made their way to the middle, certainly not ideal conditions for the seam bowlers.
Picking up from their overnight 29 for three Yorkshire’s two experienced left-handers were quickly into their stride. Phil Jaques and Andrew Gale appeared untroubled as the visitors failed to build on their position of strength.
Jaques was first to his fifty (94 balls, 8x4), with his partner following two overs later (86 balls, 7x4).
It took until 15 minutes before lunch for the pair to be parted, after a fourth wicket stand of 94. The spin and bounce of Patel induced Jaques (51) to fend off a catch to James Taylor at short leg.
The glorious weather made for excellent batting conditions and Gale, in particular, prospered as the ball softened – frequently puncturing the off side for boundaries.
Unnecessary interruptions included sunlight dazzling the players from the windows of the pavilion, spectators refusing to move from their positions close to the sightscreen and the occasional seagull dive-bombing the strip during the bowlers approach.
Gary Ballance, the fifth left-hander in the top six – the exception being the nightwatchman Steve Patterson – provided excellent support for his captain, who continued his fine record against Notts.
Gale had scored championship centuries at Trent Bridge in 2010 and at Headingley a year later and he collected his third against Notts when he danced towards Patel and lifted him over the ropes at long on to bring up his hundred (171 balls, 9x4, 1x6).
Ballance appeared to follow to his fifty, as the century stand materialised just before tea. During the interval however, a re-check with the umpires confirmed that four runs given to him had, in fact, been leg byes, so he spent the interval on 46.
Notts took the second new ball after tea and apart from Ballance reaching fifty (for the second time) the opening hour was fairly uneventful as Yorkshire drew close to avoiding the follow-on.
The intensity was briefly forgotten as Luke Fletcher calmly patted umpire Nigel Cowley on the head after a rare lbw appeal had been turned away by the official.
Ballance twice reverse-swept Patel for fours to ensure the follow-on was avoided and the final hour was all about personal milestones as Ballance reached his own hundred (208 balls, 14x4) and Gale moved on to his highest first class score.
With only one day remaining and Yorkshire only 85 adrift there seems little likelihood of either side being able to force a positive result.