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Headingey factor can help Yorks - Ballance.

GARY Ballance is hoping Yorkshire can make full use of fortress Headingley as they bid for an upturn in their Specsavers County Championship fortunes.

Yorkshire return to action after a two-and-a-half week break today when they host champions Middlesex in the first of four remaining games this season.

Both sides find themselves at the wrong end of Division One heading into the final stretch.

Middlesex are sixth with only two wins from 10 and have 106 points, while Yorkshire are seventh with three wins from 10 and have 103.

Ballance's side sit one place and 23 points above second-bottom Somerset.

It is not quite panic stations just yet, but it likely will be if they don't pick up a win in the next couple of games.

Thankfully, Yorkshire begin the run-in at Headingley, where they have only lost three Championship matches since the start of 2012, including this season's opener against Hampshire.

"We've obviously played some very good cricket for the last few years at Headingley," said captain Ballance. "We're looking forward to it.

"Our bowling attack suits conditions there, and the guys have scored runs there.

"It's good to know that two of the last four games (Warwickshire also visit) are at Headingley. Hopefully we can put some good performances in.

"It's been a bit disappointing for the lads this season.

"We haven't played as good a cricket as we'd like, but that happens.

"We've been missing a few players, and that kind of thing can happen when you come up against good teams, especially ones that play well like Essex did at Scarborough."

Yorkshire's major problem area has been their batting, with Ballance the undoubted standout with 815 runs from eight matches at an average of 101.87.

Middlesex have beaten Yorkshire on their last four visits to Lord's since 2014, including earlier this season by an innings, and have won five of the last seven fixtures between the two at all venues.

"We know how good a team Middlesex are having played some good cricket against us recently," said Ballance.

"But they haven't had the season they'd want either. That just shows how competitive this league is. Any team can beat the other."

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 5, 2017
Words:366
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