Perhaps the best way for a man who has been linked with an England call-up to press home his claims is to send three of England’s current or recent Test stars swiftly back to the pavilion. That’s exactly what Nottinghamshire’s Jake Ball did on day two at Trent Bridge against Yorkshire as he shone in the morning session – even dismissing the mighty Joe Root for a golden duck.
With Yorkshire’s bowlers having dominated day one, it was important for Notts’ attack to do the same. They got off to the perfect start with a wicket with the first ball of the innings, and three early scalps for Ball had Yorkshire reeling at 24-3.
But Alex Lees showed his class to steady the ship alongside Jonny Bairstow, and despite the latter departing before lunch, Yorkshire were 122-4 at the interval when the weather struck.
The afternoon session was a complete washout before play resumed at 5.45pm. Lees edged his way towards a century, finishing the day unbeaten on 91 having put a 50 stand on with skipper Andrew Gale to leave his side in a strong position on to surpass Notts’ first innings total on 170-4.
Yorkshire’s bowlers had showed their class on an opening day where Nottinghamshire collapsed to 261 all out having been 132-2 and, after bad light ended play early on Sunday, the defending champions began their response on day two.
It was a nightmare start as Adam Lyth fell to the first ball of the innings as Ball had him trapped lbw for a duck to leave Yorkshire 0-1.
As is the way with Yorkshire, England batsmen keep on coming but, thanks to Ball, they kept on going as well. Gary Ballance was on his way for just seven in the seventh over when he edged the seamer through to wicket-keeper Chris Read.
At 24-2 Joe Root, the golden boy of English cricket, strode to the crease. But Ball ensured he was swiftly on his way again as an outside edge was snaffled by Riki Wessels at first slip to dismiss Root for a golden duck and leave Ball on a hattrick.
Yorkshire were wobbling at 24-3 but Jonny Bairstow, another England star, and Alex Lees, surely a future England star, steadied the ship. The pair put on 83 for the fourth wicket and Lees brought up his own half-century from 64 balls as the visitors began to find their feet again at Trent Bridge.
Harry Gurney returned to peg Yorkshire back again though as he trapped Bairstow in front for 29 to leave the total on 107-4. Lees, alongside skipper Andrew Gale, saw his side through to lunch at 122-4 when weather began to play its part.
No play at all was possible during the afternoon session as numerous bursts of rain struck Trent Bridge. And several inspections followed after Tea, with the umpires finally deciding on a resumption at 5.45pm, with 16 overs to be bowled before the close.
Lees and skipper Gale passed 50 for the sixth wicket as they continued to edge away at Notts first innings total. When play ended for the day, Lees was left on 91 not out and will return in the morning in pursuit of his eighth first class century.
Nottinghamshire have started both days on top but have been pegged back by Yorkshire on both occasions. It is the defending champions who will return on day three in command of the match, hoping to build a substantial first innings lead.