Yorkshire CCC’s return to Bristol brings back memories of famous Gary Ballance run chase

YORKSHIRE’s visit to Bristol this week is their first for a decade in the County Championship, a reflection of their ever-present status in Division One since then and Gloucestershire’s as a Division Two county – save for the coronavirus-impacted campaigns of the previous two years, when the competition took the form of a conference system in which the two clubs were also kept apart.

Yorkshire's Phil Jaques hits out. PICTURE BY VAUGHN RIDLEY/SWPIX.COM
Yorkshire's Phil Jaques hits out. PICTURE BY VAUGHN RIDLEY/SWPIX.COM

They had been due to face each other at Cheltenham in 2020, following Gloucestershire’s promotion the previous year and before Covid intervened, but not since May 2012 have Yorkshire played a Championship match in Bristol, a game that will live in the memory as Yorkshire chased 400 in the fourth innings to win by four wickets.

Their closing score of 402-6 was the second-highest fourth innings total to win in Yorkshire’s history and owed much to Phil Jaques and Gary Ballance, who made 160 and 121 not out respectively.

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Ballance won it with consecutive sixes off Ed Young after a plan was hatched between the two captains, Yorkshire’s Andrew Gale and Gloucestershire’s Alex Gidman, to breathe late life into a fixture that had been badly affected by the weather.

Yorkshire's Gary Ballance PICTURE BY VAUGHN RIDLEY/SWPIX.COM Y

And so Gloucestershire declared a first innings that extended into the third afternoon on 351-9, the future Yorkshire player Kane Williamson top-scoring with 111 and Tim Bresnan taking five wickets and Steve Patterson four.

Yorkshire then forfeited their first innings before Gloucestershire declared their second innings on 48-0, leaving the visitors 400 to win in 110 overs.

Yorkshire closed day three on 30-1 for the loss of Joe Sayers. On day four, Adam Lyth chipped in with 36 and Gale 21 before Jaques and Ballance combined in a fourth-wicket stand of 203 that took the heat out of the chase and deflated the hosts.

After Jaques eventually fell, followed by Anthony McGrath for six and Bresnan for 38, Ballance and Gerard Brophy saw Yorkshire home.

Ballance’s score was his then Championship best and he batted without obvious blemish. Jaques, too, played superbly, although he did offer a sharp chance to Alex Gidman at first slip on 14, a key moment.

Yorkshire’s only game at Bristol since then came the following year, in 2013, when they lost by 36 runs in the Yorkshire Bank 40.

The weather reduced proceedings to 27 overs per side, Gloucestershire flaying 229-6 after being sent into bat with Chris Dent top-scoring with 56 with Iain Wardlaw taking 3-44 for the visitors.

Dan Hodgson led the way with 76 as Yorkshire were dismissed for 193 in reply, David Payne returning 4-44.

Yorkshire’s previous Championship game at Bristol prior to 2012 was all the way back in 1996.

The hosts won by 10 wickets inside two days, totalling 329 and 17-0, with Yorkshire dismissed for 166 and 179. The great West Indian fast bowler Courtney Walsh tore through Yorkshire with match figures of 9-59.

Not many enjoyed facing Courtney in Bristol or anywhere else for that matter.