Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie was full of praise for England outcast Gary Ballance after his 98 rescued the Tykes on day one of their County Championship clash with Sussex yesterday.
Yorkshire, top of the league and looking good value to retain their Division One crown, were reduced to 22-2 early on but Ballance’s unbeaten 98, plus 44 not out from Tim Bresnan, helped them to 346-6 at the close of play against relegation-troubled Sussex.
Alex Lees hit 69 and Glenn Maxwell, playing his final match for the county before he joins up with the Australia A side, added 43 before falling to Ollie Robinson, the former Yorkshire man.
This was Ballance’s highest score of the season since his century for England against the West Indies in April. The former Derbyshire man was dropped after two Tests of the current Ashes series, and Gillespie said: “We’re very happy with that score, having been 22 for 2.
“We had two really good partnerships and Gary and Tim summed up the situation and batted really well at the end of the day.
“Gary showed his class on a pitch which is a bit two-paced. He was bitterly disappointed to be dropped from the Ashes team but he’s come back and is concentrating on scoring as many runs as he can for Yorkshire.
“All he can do is that and keep banging on the door.”
Robinson was released by Yorkshire after disciplinary problems and he said: “It’s always nice to bowl well against your old county and I am pleased with my three wickets.
“The pitch is quite hard to get in. It’s very slow and a bit two-paced but Gary looked good and he and Tim Bresnan made it tough for us in the last session.”
Meanwhile, bowler Steven Finn admitted England had endured a difficult day in the fifth Ashes Test at the Oval yesterday.
After winning the toss and bowling, England watched Australia rach up 481 - thanks to Steve Smith’s 143 - and then were reduced to 107-8 at stumps.
The result is largely immaterial as England have already regained the Ashes, but all the talk in the build up has been about making history by winning four games at home for the first time ever.
That now seems unlikely, and Finn - who took his 100th Test wicket by removing Mitch Marsh in a rare positive moment - admitted: “We’re disappointed about the way we played. It was a very, very poor day. There’s no hiding away from that.
“Every time we put on an England shirt, we want to do ourselves and our country justice - and the people who’ve paid money to come here and watch.
“I don’t think it was an ‘attitude thing’. I think we had the right attitude. But some of our execution wasn’t as good as we’d have liked it to be.”