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Alex Winter at Bristol
May 12, 2012
Yorkshire forfeit and 402 for 6 (Jaques 160, Ballance 121*) beat Gloucestershire 351 for 9 dec (Williamson 111, Bresnan 5-81, Patterson 4-77) and 48 for 0 dec by four wickets
Relegated clubs often hold a sense of being better than Division Two, especially a county of the grandeur of Yorkshire, a club with a major chip on their shoulder this season. At Bristol the cheers from the balcony as Gary Ballance struck the second of consecutive sixes to win the match were the roars of a team determined to prove their belonging is far above the lower portion of the lower tier, which Gloucestershire represent.
Last week's match at Scarborough against Leicestershire was billed as a must-win, after no win in Yorkshire's opening three games. They assumed a divine right to beat Leicestershire and duly did so. Like the Surrey swagger, the Yorkshire vaunt was returning. Now it's back and quite possibly here to stay as they overhauled the highest-ever chase at Bristol; and the second-highest successful chase in Yorkshire history.
"I always knew that if we got that first win it would give us a lot of confidence going forward and we would get on some sort of roll," Andrew Gale, Yorkshire captain, said. "Today shows how much confidence we've got in the camp now."
It is a confidence bred by their new coach Jason Gillespie. "I said to Jason what do you think of the chase and he said go for it. He said we'll chase anything. Being part of an Australian side like he was, they would have backed themselves to chase that and that's rubbing off on us a little bit."
This was a very Australian victory. Very Adelaide 2006. Very Cape Town 2002: where Australia chased 331 at more than four an over to win, a game in which Gillespie played. He oversaw a chase of 400 here, in 108 overs. It was a tremendous effort but a challenge Gillespie expects his side to take on and expects them to succeed at.
He certainly expected his countryman to carry his attitude. Phil Jaques did and played a wonderful innings, thumping the ball around and dominating Gloucestershire's young attack in the manner of Matthew Hayden or David Warner, all powerful left-handers with a great eye for the ball.
After passing a hundred (his ninth for Yorkshire) in 160 balls, Gloucestershire might have hoped he would try to win the match quickly and perhaps give them a chance - generosities were necessary on this slow wicket - but Jaques continued to grind the hosts down. Beside, Jaques had offered a sharp chance to Alex Gidman at first slip when on 14. Goodness, what a miss.
But Jaques alone was not enough to reach the target. Two big innings were needed and Ballance, another from the southern hemisphere, provided the other. The pair shared 203 with sensible but positive batting at 3.35 runs an over. They were in complete control. The stand began when Andrew Gale chipped Ed Young to mid off during the morning session - an undeserved wicket, Young was the most expensive of the Gloucestershire attack - and lasted until the 15th over of the second new ball.
Ballance made perhaps the better of the two centuries. The Zimbabwean's was chanceless and offered a magnificent coup de grace: Young dispatched over mid on for four, then six and another maximum over midwicket won the game.
There was little Gloucestershire could do. "Things could be a lot worse," was captain Alex Gidman's conclusion. "If you look at the way we've started, to have lost one, won one and been unbeaten in another three is a good effort. We're young and inexperienced and setting out on a journey ourselves and to come across this challenge was really good for us and I was proud of the way we tried.
"I'm pleased we took the task on; a year ago we wouldn't have even thought of it. That we did is a good sign for the future."
Their seamers, including Graeme McCarter, a 19-year-old Ireland international on debut, bowled admirably but conditions made taking wickets with the older ball exceptionally difficult. Will Gidman took two with the second new ball - ending Jaques' 256-ball stay, bowled trying to cut, and had Anthony McGrath, who played a major part in Yorkshire's highest fourth-innings chase, against Leicestershire in 2005, very well held at second slip.
But Yorkshire's very talented line-up runs deep and out strode Tim Bresnan to punch six fours and a flicked six over square leg to take Yorkshire to the winning line. He was bowled before Ballance's glorious ending.
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?