By Graham Hardcastle
Gary Ballance is confident there is plenty of room for improvement both team wise and personally ahead of next season with Yorkshire.
Ballance, 29, was the county’s leading run-scorer in two of the three competitions this summer, posting 975 in the Specsavers County Championship and 294 in the Royal London One-Day Cup.
Last month, he scooped the White Rose Members’ player of the year, an award which he described as a “huge honour”, and on Thursday is likely to feature again at the club’s gala awards dinner at Emerald Headingley.
Yorkshire’s failure to qualify for the knockout stages of both the One-Day Cup and the Vitality Blast was a huge disappointment, while they finished fifth in the Championship’s top flight with five wins.
With three rounds to go, however, they sat third and still had an outside chance of pipping Essex and Somerset to the title, only to suffer heavy defeats to Somerset and Kent to put a dampener on earlier signs of encouragement.
In Ballance, Tom Kohler-Cadmore (828) and Adam Lyth (804), Yorkshire had a third of the Division One’s top nine run-scorers.
“As a group, the good thing is we’ve improved on last year,” said Ballance. “We’ve got some big scores and had guys who’ve scored hundreds.
“Also, it’s another year of experience for our young batters. They will only get better. There’s a lot of talent there.”
Generally through the 2019 Championship campaign, Yorkshire batted better in their second innings.
“When you score first-innings runs, you’re always driving the game,” said Ballance. “We did that at Hampshire and against Somerset at Headingley. We really bossed the games and got two good victories.
“As a whole, we can be better at that. But from last year to this, there’s definitely been an improvement.
“Generally, as a bowling unit we’ve been really good.
“We’ve played on different types of wickets. But most of the time we’ve been able to take 20 wickets.
“We have a good variety with Duanne Olivier, Ben Coad, Steve Patterson, Tim Bresnan and Matt Fisher. I could name a few others as well.
“Also, having Keshav Maharaj for five games, he was brilliant.
“In the red ball, if we keep improving then we’ll be challenging for a trophy. That would be great.
“Another year of experience for all our young lads will be massive. When it comes to white ball, it’s about consistency.
“We’ve had guys playing great knocks and some five-fors with the ball, but we just can’t quite do it over the course of the whole tournament. We have to find a way.”
Ballance was denied the chance to reach 1,000 Championship runs last week when their season-ending clash with Warwickshire at Edgbaston was rain ruined.
Yorkshire were 261 for two at tea on Monday’s first day, but not another ball was bowled.
Looking back personally, Ballance believes a solid defence was the secret to his success.
He highlighted centuries against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge (101 not out in the second innings of draw) and Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl (148 in an innings victory) during the opening fortnight of the campaign as his standout knocks.
And he added: “Last year I was a bit inconsistent and didn’t back my defence as much as this year. Going into this season, I worked on that and felt really solid.
“Knowing I could back my defence in any conditions against any bowler gave me a lot of confidence.
“I’m sure going into this winter there are things which I can improve. I’ll keep trying to get better.”