The Verdict: Joe Root and Gary Ballance the toast of Yorkshire after earning fair share at Trent Bridge
TO DECLARE or not to declare? That was the question going into day four.
No doubt Notts captain Steven Mullaney agonised over the dilemma, with team-mate Joe Clarke three runs short of his second hundred of the match on his Championship debut for the club, before coming to the right decision for the good of the team.
Mullaney pulled out on the overnight total of 329-5, leaving Yorkshire 447 to win or, realistically, three sessions to try to bat out the draw.
As it turned out, Mullaney could have allowed Clarke the chance to complete his century.
At 5.05pm, hands were shaken on a hard-fought draw as Yorkshire closed on 277-2. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, and Mullaney had to have one eye on an uncertain weather forecast too.
A captain should always prioritise trying to win over personal milestones, while the counter-argument to suggestions that he might have declared on the third evening were a short square boundary to the Bridgford Road side and the fact that Yorkshire had in their line-up a certain Joe Root.
Appropriately enough, it was Root - displaying impeccable technique and positive movements in all that he did - who helped steer Yorkshire to a well-earned share of the spoils.
His 130, allied to 101 from Gary Ballance, with whom he shared an unbroken stand of 253 in 68 overs, a Yorkshire third-wicket record against Notts, was a superlative exhibition of class and concentration.
All things considered, Yorkshire would have been pleased to get out of this game intact.
Notts held a first innings lead of 117 and, with a little more ruthlessness with the bat on the first day, when several players gave their wickets away, and but for dropping Root on eight in Yorkshire’s first innings before he went on to 73, they might have won.
As it was, on a pitch that held up remarkably well for the time of year, and in soft sunshine that brought out the timeless splendour of Trent Bridge, Yorkshire showed their battling qualities if not quite their best form in the match overall.
Having played a poor shot to Samit Patel in the first innings, when he tried to launch the left-arm spinner back over his head for six and was caught at slip, Root was in no mood to make the same mistake twice as he picked off runs in fluent style.
Only twice was he particularly discomforted: first, and most noticeably, when he was struck on the helmet first ball by a delivery from Stuart Broad that did not get up as much as he expected, and then when he escaped a confident appeal for a gloved catch down the leg side off Paul Coughlin when on 46.
In Notts’s increasingly desperate efforts to remove him, Coughlin tried to bounce out Root with three men stationed on the short square boundary, a tactic to which the Yorkshireman responded with a sequence of four pulled boundaries in the space of five balls, as if to say: “You’ll have to come up with summat better than that.”
Earlier, it looked as if Notts might indeed have all the answers when Jake Ball struck two early blows in the morning session.
Harry Brook, pushing forward, was caught low down at third slip by Chris Nash, and Adam Lyth was bowled trying to withdraw his bat, leaving two stumps spreadeagled on the floor.
Ball and Broad were impressive at the start, making full use of a new ball so vital in the generally benign conditions. But neither they nor their team-mates had any answer to Root and Ballance, the old firm proving far too good.
Root, all inventive manipulation and incisive drives, had the air of someone having a net session at times, despite a volley of short stuff sent his way.
Ballance was a frustrating foil for the home team’s bowlers, some fine shots off his hips complemented by the usual array of nudges and nurdles.
Just about the only close shave for Ballance was when he might have been run-out on 42 after pushing Broad to mid-on. But Coughlin missed his shy at the stumps, with Ballance having given up hope of making his ground.
Root reached his hundred with his 16th four, a gorgeous cover-drive off Ball to the Bridgford Road boundary. He quietly removed his helmet, kissed the Yorkshire badge and acknowledged the warm applause from all around the ground.
Ballance brought up his milestone with a six over mid-wicket off Patel, at which point the match ended, leaving Root and Ballance the toast of Yorkshire.