Yorkshire send out title warning after remarkable run-chase win

THERE were those who thought Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale had been overly optimistic in agreeing to a contrived finish which left his team wanting 400 to win this match from a minimum of 110 overs.

Four hundred to win from a minimum of 110 overs? In soggy May? On another team’s ground in conditions they know like the back of their hand?

It is all very well wanting to play positive, attacking cricket, but Yorkshire have not even scored 400 in 110 overs to claim maximum batting points since June, 2010, let alone achieved such heights amid the pressure of a run-chase.

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But achieve them they did in remarkable fashion in Bristol on Saturday, where victory by four wickets sealed the club’s second-highest run-chase in first-class cricket and sent them joint-top of the Championship Second Division.

The remarkable thing about it was the relative ease with which it was accomplished; indeed, cigars might have been more appropriate accoutrements for the Yorkshire batsmen than pads, bats, helmets and gloves.

Phil Jaques, with 160 from 256 balls with 17 fours, and Gary Ballance, with an unbeaten 121 from 221 deliveries with 10 fours and three sixes, were the heroes as Yorkshire reached their target with 20 balls to spare.

The fourth-wicket pair added 203 in 61 overs against a side who went into the day with the odds apparently weighted in their favour.

There was a slight wobble when the dismissals of Jaques and Anthony McGrath in the space of two overs saw Yorkshire slip from 320-3 to 328-5 with just over an hour to go, but it was no more than that.

Tim Bresnan emerged to thump 38 from 34 balls with six fours and a six to put the issue beyond doubt, adding 55 in nine overs with Ballance, who completed the win with successive leg-side sixes off left-arm spinner Ed Young.

For Gale, a captain growing in stature, victory emphasised Yorkshire’s determination to bounce straight back after relegation.

“This win sends out a message,” said Gale, whose team are level at the top with Derbyshire.

“It was worth risking three points for a draw to try and get 16 for a win, and that’s the way you’ve got to play in this division if you’re going to get out of it.

“We batted a long way down in this match with Tim Bresnan back in the side and with Adil Rashid at No 9, who must be the best No 9 in the country.

“We still needed one or two guys to stand up and get a big score, and, in Phil Jaques and Gary Ballance, that’s exactly what we found.”

Gale revealed he triggered discussions about setting up the game after the opening day was lost to rain and the second day severely affected as well.

He approached Gloucestershire captain Alex Gidman at lunch on day three and asked if he wanted to broker a deal.

“I asked Gidders whether he fancied, in effect, a one-innings game and he wasn’t quite sure at the time,” said Gale.

“We spoke again later in the afternoon and we made an arrangement, although I would probably have liked a few more overs, to be honest.

“Maybe 400 in four sessions, or something like that, but Gidders is a pretty tough negotiator.

“Anyway, when I put the offer of 400 in 110 overs to Dizzy (Jason Gillespie, Yorkshire’s first team coach) he just said, ‘yeah, go for it’.”

Conditions were certainly in Yorkshire’s favour when they resumed their task in glorious sunshine.

They began the final day on 30-1, with Jaques on eight and Adam Lyth on 19.

Jaques had a life on 14 when he was dropped by Alex Gidman at first slip off Ian Saxelby in the only chance the Australian offered.

Otherwise, Jaques set the tone for what was to come, driving handsomely and cutting crisply and displaying all his quality and experience.

The Gloucestershire attack was mediocre at best but still Yorkshire had to guard against occasional low bounce from the Jessop Stand end.

One such delivery did for Lyth, who went back to a ball from Saxelby that failed to get up and pinned him lbw for 36.

Gale came out and stepped up the tempo, launching Young for a straight six into the Pavilion end and cover-driving the next ball for four.

But he then made a present of his wicket when he smacked Young straight down the throat of mid-off to leave Yorkshire 117-2 in the 34th over.

Gale’s dismissal came 10 minutes before the start of his beloved Huddersfield Town’s play-off semi-final first leg at MK Dons, screened live on television.

“I was thinking that everyone must have thought I got out on purpose,” he joked on a day when the Terriers won 2-0.

However, Jaques and Ballance made light of his departure, lifting Yorkshire into lunch on 148-3 before adding a further 121 runs in the afternoon session before Jaques was eventually bowled by Will Gidman.

Gidman had McGrath caught in the slips before Young bowled Bresnan, but Yorkshire marched on to a memorable win.