GARY BALLANCE rapped out 104 reminders of his quality to the England selectors in a masterful performance at Trent Bridge.
In front of James Taylor, who is one of their number, Ballance scored his second century of the season to assist Yorkshire’s battle to avoid the drop.
Ballance’s 104, made from 138 balls with 20 fours, helped Yorkshire to 258-4 in reply to Notts’s 448 at stumps on day two.
Whether he can come again as an international player remains to be seen, but, at a time when England’s search for top-order solutions increasingly resembles that of seeking needles in haystacks, his innings at least evoked the famous Simple Minds’ entreaty: “Don’t you forget about me.”
No one is going to forget about Ballance in this form, which was as good as he has shown for quite some time. It was an innings marked by tremendous positivity right from the start, a fact highlighted by the presence of 11 boundaries in a half-century reached from 44 balls.
Perhaps, after a lean period in which he had failed to pass 40 in 15 innings in all cricket, it was a classic case of a man looking to play himself back into runs.
Yet there was nothing extravagant or risky about the way that Ballance got after the bowling; indeed, his dazzling drives to the cover, mid-wicket and mid-on boundaries, in particular, were the product of excellent timing and technique.
Ballance, who played the last of his 23 Tests at this ground in July last year, losing his place after breaking a finger, has had a difficult season to mirror that of his club.
His only other hundred, a score of 109 against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl in June, had come in his first Championship innings after a fatigue-like illness had forced him to take a three-week break from the game and to relinquish the captaincy.
With that in mind, Yorkshire have not wanted to burden him further in that regard, which is why acting captain David Willey - himself deputising for new captain Steve Patterson (broken finger) - handed over the reins to Adam Lyth for this match after withdrawing with a back problem.
Instead, Yorkshire want Ballance to focus on doing what he does best, which was essentially what he did here on a mainly overcast day with the odd sunny interlude.
It was a day that began with Notts on 332-7, a good position, certainly, but one that should have been even better from 182-0.
Yorkshire had fought back with four wickets with the second new ball on the first evening, reducing the hosts from 292-3.
But the pattern of bat dominating ball returned as Notts’s eighth-wicket pair of Samit Patel and Matt Milnes frustrated Yorkshire for the first 70 minutes of Wednesday’s play.
No one is going to forget about Ballance in this form, which was as good as he has shown for quite some time. It was an innings marked by tremendous positivity right from the startChris Waters
They took the score to 421 - and their stand to 90 - before Milnes was lbw to a well-flighted googly from Josh Poysden for a career-best 43 that contained nine fours.
Patel had provided the early impetus, whipping Tim Bresnan to the leg-side boundary in flamingo fashion and pulling his next ball to the rope from outside off stump.
Milnes joined the soiree with five boundaries in nine balls as Notts claimed maximum batting points for the first time this season.
Patel went to a 79-ball fifty by pulling a Poysden long-hop for six, only to perish trying to repeat the feat by thumping another half-tracker to backward square-leg.
Bresnan finished things off, Harry Gurney skying to point as Notts were dismissed 30 minutes before lunch.
Lyth fell to the sixth ball of the reply, driving Mark Footitt to gully, but debutant Jeet Raval and Harry Brook added 59 for the second wicket.
Raval, the tall and lithe New Zealand left-hander, hit three boundaries - all off pace bowler Milnes, whom he clipped off his pads, off-drove classically and then caressed on bended knee through the covers before losing his off and middle stumps playing forward to left-arm seamer Gurney, who did him through the gate.
Raval, who has replaced his Test captain Kane Williamson as overseas player for the rest of the campaign, scored 15 from 30 balls in just over an hour.
Williamson, it may be recalled, fared worse on his maiden appearance for Yorkshire, also at this ground, when he suffered a golden duck back in 2013.
Brook, the 19-year-old right-hander, played some fine strokes, steering Milnes to the mid-wicket boundary and clipping Luke Wood’s first ball to the cover rope.
He also had the sense to rein himself in and play second fiddle to Ballance when it became clear that this was one of Ballance’s red-letter days.
Brook contributed 15 to their partnership of 78, falling three short of fifty when he drove Patel’s left-arm spin to Wood at mid-wicket.
Ballance was finally caught at short-leg pushing forward to Patel, but Tom Kohler-Cadmore, with whom he compiled 95, played handsomely to reach an unbeaten 57 from 131 balls with seven fours.