Somerset v Yorkshire: Gary Ballance throws down the gauntlet to Yorkshire

GARY BALLANCE wants Yorkshire to show that their Roses win was no flash-in-the-pan.

Ben Coad took his fourth five-wicket haul of the season against Lancashire (SW Pix)
Ben Coad took his fourth five-wicket haul of the season against Lancashire (SW Pix)

The Yorkshire captain has challenged his players to back up their 10-wicket victory over Lancashire last week with another success against Somerset at Taunton.

“It’s important to back performances up,” said Ballance.

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“It’s fine doing it once but, to win Championships, tournaments or trophies, you have got to do it game after game.

“Hopefully, we can be consistent.

“We’ve done that in the one-day stuff and, hopefully, we can keep doing it this week and put in another good shift.”

Yorkshire thrashed the old enemy on the back of an outstanding effort from their seam bowlers, particularly Ben Coad, who took eight wickets in the match.

Coad faces a fitness test on sore shins prior to today’s game, which Tim Bresnan misses due to the impending birth of his third child, but Ballance is expecting a different type of challenge at Taunton.

“It was a great performance against Lancashire, certainly one of the best I’ve seen,” he said.

“But we know what it will be like down at Taunton.

“There’s no doubt it will be a different type of wicket, but I’m confident that whatever attack we go with, we can take wickets.

“It would be great to get a win and keep that forward momentum going.”

Yorkshire are expecting a spinning surface and have added left-armer Karl Carver to their squad.

Azeem Rafiq will lead the spin bowling, with Adil Rashid on England duty.

“The way Rafa (Rafiq) has bowled this season has been outstanding,” said Ballance.

“He wasn’t really required against Lancashire last week, but he’ll be licking his lips at Taunton if it’s a turner, which we’re kind of expecting.

“It’s up to me and Andrew Gale (first-team coach) to pick the best XI to win us the game.

“We’ve just got to find a way.”

Somerset were locked in a three-way battle with Yorkshire and Middlesex for last year’s Championship, but things have not gone well for them this season.

They are second-bottom of Division One after three defeats and two draws, but Gale insists Yorkshire must not take them lightly.

“They had a good season last year,” he said.

“Things haven’t gone quite to plan for them this year, but you can’t underestimate any team in this division.

“It’s almost a mini-season for us in this month, with a block of Championship cricket and then a quarter-final (in the Royal London Cup) and then, hopefully, a semi and then a final in there as well.

“So we want to make sure we perform to our best at Taunton and continue this momentum.”

Gale has been particularly pleased with the way that Yorkshire’s young players have come in this summer and grabbed their chance – not least Coad, who has taken 31 wickets in five Championship games at an average of 14.03.

Pace bowler Matthew Fisher and all-rounder Matthew Waite have also helped to create competition for places and are in the squad for this week’s match.

“It’s been pleasing that a few of the young players have come in and taken their opportunity,” said Gale.

“I think we needed that.

“We’ve got a good bunch of senior players, but we have needed them to be pushed hard for their places and the likes of Ben Coad coming in and Matthew Waite and also Matthew Fisher, they are chomping at the bit.

“The second XI is going really well, and they are knocking on the door, so that side of things has been very pleasing.”

Along with Coad, Yorkshire’s top performer this season has been Ballance, who has scored 610 Championship runs at an average of 101.66.

It has raised the very real prospect of the 27-year-old being recalled for next month’s Test series against South Africa, which would see the Yorkshire captaincy pass over to vice-captain Bresnan.

“We knew from the outset that it would always be a risk picking Gary as our captain because there is always an outside chance that if things did go well for him he might get picked for England,” said Gale.

“If he does, we have some plans in place to cover for that, but whoever comes in might struggle to score the runs that Gary has because he’s had an unbelievable start to the season.”

Commenting on Ballance’s captaincy overall, former captain Gale said: “He’s done really well.

“He’s a different character to me – not quite heart-on-sleeve and as emotional a captain as I was, but, when he speaks in the dressing room, he speaks a lot of sense and the players listen.

“I think tactically he’s done well.

“The big question was could he score runs as well as lead the side, and he’s done that a lot better than I could have done.”

Six of the last eight meetings between Yorkshire and Somerset have ended in a draw, with one win apiece.

Yorkshire have not won on their last seven trips to Taunton, which have brought four draws and three defeats.