TIM BRESNAN made his highest score for Yorkshire for over five years and then said that winning the County Championship would be a dream come true.
Bresnan hit 95 as leaders Yorkshire scored 532-9 declared against Nottinghamshire, who reached 58-4 at stumps on day two.
Yorkshire will clinch the title if they win this match, or if they draw and third-placed Warwickshire do not beat Northamptonshire.
Even if Yorkshire are not crowned this week, they would need only a handful of points from their final game against Somerset at Headingley to take the prize.
Bresnan, whose innings was his highest for Yorkshire since he scored 97 against Worcestershire at New Road in 2009, knows it will take a miracle to deny the White Rose from here.
Asked whether the Championship is now almost won, he said: “You can never say never but, yes, we’re doing all the right things.
“If we were to bowl Nottinghamshire out cheaply from here, we would have a great chance of creating something special and winning the game.
“On a personal level, to win the Championship would be fantastic.
“It’s the only thing missing off my CV really, and I’d be delighted if we end up doing it.”
Bresnan played a key part yesterday as Yorkshire ground down their opponents with almost Germanic efficiency.
The champions-elect scored 213 in 78.2 overs after resuming on their overnight 319-4, declaring 70 minutes before close of play.
With Yorkshire’s run-rate yesterday 2.7, there were one or two grumblings around the ground, and also on satellite television, which is covering the match, of their tactical approach.
But Bresnan insisted it was right and dispirited the hosts.
“I think there’s been some criticism of how we’ve batted, but, for me, it was right to keep them (Nottinghamshire) out there, get as many runs as we could and let the game take its natural course,” he said.
“As soon as we passed 400, it was a case of grinding them into the dirt really.
“It then became a very difficult game for us to lose and also enabled us to go out there with a better chance of taking early wickets, which we did.
“When you’ve been a day-and-a-half in the field you’re really weary, and although we bowled well at the end, maybe James Taylor’s shot was a little bit tired and you’re going to get that sort of thing.”
Taylor’s stroke might kindly be described as loose as he chased a ball from Ryan Sidebottom that flew to Gary Ballance at third slip.
It left Nottinghamshire 12-3 and in some disarray as Yorkshire ran riot in the final hour.
Four balls earlier, Sidebottom had removed Steven Mullaney, caught high at second slip by Adam Lyth, as he played back to a ball just short of a length.
Nottinghamshire’s first wicket had gone to the ninth ball of the innings, Jack Brooks producing a fine delivery to have Alex Hales caught behind.
When Brooks had Samit Patel caught low at third slip by Ballance for a duck, Nottinghamshire were 25-4 inside six overs.
Michael Lumb (35) and Riki Wessels (14) survived until stumps, but the hosts still need a further 325 to avoid the follow-on.
Earlier, Bresnan was not the only Yorkshire player to perish in the 90s as Ballance departed for 99.
The England left-hander, who started the day on 82, went lbw to left-arm spinner Gary Keedy, having faced 199 balls and hit 10 fours and a six.
Yorkshire slipped to 387-6 when Jack Leaning was also lbw to Keedy for 42 from 106 balls.
The visitors accumulated 81 in the morning in 31 overs and managed 95 in 35 overs in the afternoon, during which another two wickets tumbled.
Adil Rashid was smartly caught by Wessels at mid-wicket off Luke Fletcher, having scored 42 from 62 deliveries.
Steve Patterson went on the stroke of tea, having helped Bresnan add 57 for the eighth wicket in 24 overs, the pace bowler padding up to Keedy to give him a deserved five-wicket haul.
Yorkshire declared when Bresnan was out, caught by Wessels at mid-wicket off Mullaney.
Another five runs would have given Bresnan his third hundred for Yorkshire, and his first since scoring 101 not out against Warwickshire at Scarborough in 2007.
He was particularly strong through the leg-side yesterday, but he did have an escape when on 30 when he was caught by Harry Gurney at deep square-leg off Patel only for the fielder’s momentum to take him over the rope.
Bresnan accelerated towards the end of his innings as the declaration loomed.
“A message came out that ideally we wanted 550 on the board and to maybe have 15, 16 overs at them before the close,” he said.
“So we had to get on with it a bit. But then Siddy (Ryan Sidebottom) is down the other end blocking it and I’m thinking, ‘What are you doing?’” laughed Bresnan.
“To be fair, it was quite an attritional day and it’s an attritional wicket too,” he said.
“But it was another good day and we’re in a strong position.”