Today’s Specsavers County Championship meeting between Yorkshire and Hampshire at Emerald Headingley is very much a clash of the run-scoring titans.

The pair are the two leading run-scorers in Championship cricket this summer, with Northeast leading the way with 511 runs in four matches, including two hundreds.

Ballance is second with three hundreds in a haul of 426 runs.

Yorkshire fans know just how good left-handed Ballance is, and some of his other current and career his stats are quite remarkable.

The county’s team of performance analysts, led by Phil Dicks and Bertie Kennedy, have not only been delving into the 29-year-old’s recent Championship form but also his career first-class record and show that he measures up favourably against the very best players in the world at present; Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, Joe Root et al.

Kennedy, who has undertaken the research, believes some of the most telling stats for a batsman’s success centre around their percentage of fifties and hundreds along with conversion rates – how many times a batsman goes on to reach 100 having earlier reached 50.

He has looked at the top English middle order batsmen in the County Championship since the start of 2017.

“Clubs never ask to look too much further back than two years and the existing one when assessing players,” he explained.

“It just takes a more current approach.

“If someone was a really, really good performer in 2016, it would skew their data for 2017 and 2018, and it’s rare to pick someone now on the back of good performances in 2016. That’s why I’ve been looking more recent.”

So, in Championship cricket since the start of 2017, Ballance has reached 50 on 17 occasions in 46 innings, leaving him with a 50 plus percentage of 36.9 percent.

In other words, he reaches 50 at a rate better than once every three innings.

No one else in Championship cricket matches up, with Sussex captain Ben Brown and England Test opener Joe Denly at 34.9 and 31.9 percent respectively.

Northeast has reached 50 13 times in 48 innings (27 percent).

Ballance is also top of the tree in terms of 100 plus percentage.

He reaches 100 19.5 percent of time he bats (nine hundreds).

Only injured Surrey youngster Ollie Pope comes close with a percentage of 19.2 (five hundreds in 26 innings).

Over the last two and a bit seasons, Ballance has also been superb at converting fifties into hundreds. He does that 52.9 percent of the time.

Only Pope and Hampshire’s James Vince (both 62.5) and Nottinghamshire’s Joe Clarke (54.5) can better Ballance’s conversion rate, although they have yet to reach the volume of hundreds Balance has amassed.

Tom Kohler-Cadmore’s conversion rate of 42.8 is also pretty impressive (seven times to 50 in 26 innings, with three of those being hundreds).

When Kennedy talks about only looking from 2017 onwards, he uses Northeast as the prime example of why.

“He had a really good 2016. So he would be right up there if you took it back to the start of that summer. The last two summers, he’s not been as prolific, owing a lot to a hand injury he had at the start of last year and moving clubs from Kent to Hampshire and hence divisions,” he said.

“But it can be interesting to go further back to see if a player has just been on a hot streak or not, and it is clear that Gary has been doing it for a number of years. He hasn’t really had an off year.

“So I had a look at his first-class career stats and compared him to some of the world’s best at present.”

In 244 first-class innings for Yorkshire, England, the Lions and the MidWest Rhinos, Ballance’s 50 plus percentage stands at 35.2 (86 times to fifty from 244 innings). That is only bettered by Hashim Amla, Williamson and Steve Smith in the modern day era.

Australian Smith leads the way at 38.90 percent (81 times to 50 in 208 innings).

Smith, described as a “statistical freak” by Kennedy, is, however, just behind Virat Kohli in terms of conversion rate.

Kohli’s conversion rate is 53.3 percent, with 60 times to 50 in 179 innings – 32 of those being hundreds.

“It’s amazing to see a higher number in the 100s column than the 50s” said Kennedy, who actually notes that Surrey’s Pope has a career conversion rate of 54.5 but from only 40 innings.

Smith’s conversion rate is 45.6 percent.

From a Yorkshire point of view, the 50 plus percentage graph produced is fascinating.

Of the top seven batsmen charted, four of them have played for Yorkshire in the last 12 months.

While Smith leads the way in reaching 50 38.9 percent of the time he has batted, the only others above Ballance (35.2) are Amla (35.4) and Williamson (36.4).

Below are Joe Root (34.7), Kohli (33.5) and Che Pujara (32.2).

“From these stats, it is really clear that Gary matches up to some of the greats in first-class cricket at present, long may it continue!” added Kennedy.

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