Yorkshire 291 for 5 (Balance 106*, Lees 63, Bresnan 63) v Middlesex
Scorecard

Scarborough's restorative properties have long been proclaimed by many who love nothing better than to holiday in this grand old seaside town. Considering the state of the pound, they might soon be joined by a few more converts. Certainly there is a good case for Welcome to Yorkshire using Gary Ballance on their advertising material after he reacquainted himself with the form that has largely eluded him since he was dropped by England.

Ballance is habitually listed as those in the running to replace Nick Compton as England's No. 3 in the first Test against Pakistan. That he is on the shortlist - albeit a little lower down at the moment - owes as much to his Test average of 48 as much as recent form, but his unbeaten 106 against a reputable Middlesex attack, his first of the season, will do him no harm.

"It has been a long time coming, this century, and it was a great feeling," Ballance said. "I have felt it good nick this season but have not been getting the big scores. It was not so much the nervous 90s as the nervous 80s where I was stuck for about half an hour and thinking about a century but I eased my nerves by getting through the 90s quickly.

"I would love to get back into the England team but every cricketer will tell you that you start struggling if you start thinking about it. At the moment I am just concentrating on playing for Yorkshire and not worrying about England: the rest will happen

Historians might feel this latest Scarborough miracle was appropriate. Scarborough's claim to be the world's first seaside spa report goes back as far as 1626 when it was affimed that the town's spring water possessed medicinal properties. Such optimism was badly needed at the time because in June of that year King Charles I dissolved the English parliament. These days, parliament is not dissolved, merely in chaos. You don't know you've been born.

Scarborough's effect was far from instantaneous - they even use Harrogate Spa bottled water in the dressing room - and Ballance's hundred was hard earned, more a statement of determination and desire than an immediate clicking of form.

He confessed in April to undergoing a mental battle after his back-foot technique was analysed and this innings seemed to illustrate that. Like a well-done steak, his presence was forever imposing, but not easily digestible. He was rewarded for his determination, beginning with conscientious leg-side tucks, reaching a sedate half-century in the last over before tea and interspersing some more confident cuts as life became a little easier under blue skies in the final session.

Two successive clipped boundaries off Tim Murtagh brought up his first Championship century since his 165 against Sussex at Hove last August - his only Championship hundred last season.

Scarborough, holiday town or not, knew the importance of that. Like an annual elephant gathering at a favourite water hole, Yorkshire cricket fans are drawn to North Marine Road by faith and tradition, watching intently, whether the cricket is grim or adventurous, sitting in familiar seats, resuming conversations, warily looking around for signs of change and grateful not to find evidence of many - apart from the seaside landladies, who reputedly are far more genial these days.

This is the chattiest of county crowds, social mistrust broken down by the sense that everybody is on vacation for an identical purpose. There was a stall here promoting the good work done by the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, but a brief walk along the popular banking is enough to soak up the essence of cricket throughout the county.

"I've retired. They asked me back but my knees are knackered."

"You've not got more than six all season? You're kidding."

"Can't believe they called it off - it stopped raining at one o'clock."

It is a soulless cricketer who does not love the chance to play at Scarborough. Strange things can happen on this intimate patch of green. Mike Selvey, the Guardian correspondent, watching his beloved Middlesex on a ground he had not visited for many years, recalled dismissing Geoffrey Boycott first ball as the old curmudgeon charged and slogged him to mid-on. Research revealed it to be a 10-over Fenner Trophy match in 1979, but it sounded outlandish all the same.

The sun beamed down at the start of play, but this has been the grouchiest of summers and nobody was about to be fooled. All season, coats have been donned as automatically as shoes. For everybody braving a t-shirt, there were half a dozen protected in three or four layers. The Championship table, at the mid-point of the season, remains sketchy and unformed: Yorkshire nine points behind Lancashire with a game in hand, Middlesex in third, a further two points behind.

Yorkshire lost two wickets to attempted leave-alones in the morning, both of them bringing catches to the wicketkeeper, John Simpson. Adam Lyth fell first ball of the day to a seemingly innocent, wideish delivery from Tim Murtagh, the home-club boy out before many spectators had adjusted their cushions. Kane Williamson, who needed 36 balls for his first run, erred in similar fashion to James Franklin, although on this occasion against a ball of tighter line.

Alex Lees brought up an attractive half-century with a six over long-off against Ollie Rayner which was confidently caught by a spectator with enough theatrical aplomb to win a walk-on part in a holiday show. Remarkably, it was his best score on home soil since September 2014.

Batting first was not entirely automatic. A sluggish pitch possessed just enough encouragement for the Middlesex seamers and there was some swing, too, whenever the cloud thickened. Murtagh made best use of that in a probing post-lunch spell, having Lees caught at second slip for 63, and when Andrew Gale followed lbw to a fullish lbw from Toby Roland-Jones, Yorkshire were anxiously placed 131 for 4. "It's Not Very Promising," said one woman peering out of the Ladies Toilet, although she could have been talking about the weather. People usually are.

Ballance rediscovered that promise, as did the day itself. Tim Bresnan helped him shore up the innings with a sturdy half-century in a partnership that reclaimned Yorkshire's authority before Murtagh, the pick of Middlesex's attack, bowled him with a decent delivery.

Driving back from Scarborough across the Yorkshire Wolds on a glorious evening - and there have not been many - the landscape beyond Garrowby Hill was dazzling, and bright white clouds were interspersed so gloriously across a fresh blue sky that it was possible to imagine that no clouds of quite that form had ever been made before. "Cloud-puffball, torn tufts, tossed pillows," as the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins had it, and many more shapes besides.

It was as if the Yorkshire landscape had turned on a show to mark the end of some difficult times.

Ballance's time will come again. But perhaps not quite yet.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps