Yorkshire258 for 4 (Ballance 104, Kohler-Cadmore 57*) trail Nottinghamshire Nottinghamshire 448 (Patel 54) by 190 runs
So much has gone wrong for Yorkshire this summer that to some of their followers, possibly even those in the committee room, could be excused for thinking that their luck is simply out, that relegation from Division One is somehow a preordained fate. The lifeline to which the players may cling is that it is in their hands.
A well-worn cliché? Of course - but one that, in this instance, applies perfectly. Next to bottom on 94 points from 10 games going into this match, their last three fixtures are against Lancashire, Hampshire and Worcestershire, all of whom began this round feeling similarly fearful. Win any of those, they will have told themselves in the Yorkshire dressing room, and the points are almost worth double.
The news from Taunton and Worcester will have done nothing to ease their anxieties. Points for a draw here could be precious, although they may take some securing. Nottinghamshire, themselves not properly out of the woods, made the most of their opportunity against a makeshift Yorkshire attack on an essentially flat pitch, setting a target of 299 just to avoid the follow-on, a total Yorkshire's brittle batting line-up has achieved only five times all season.
In their favour, Nottinghamshire are likewise without a full complement of bowlers. Jake Ball is out for the remainder of the season and Luke Fletcher, their most successful so far, has been on duty in the radio commentary booth rather than on the field - a sideline in which he shows a lot of promise, incidentally - although his absence is expected only to be temporary.
Yorkshire made a dreadful start, nonetheless, when Adam Lyth edged the last ball of Mark Footitt's opening over to gully, where Luke Wood held a fine catch. Footitt is playing his first match for Nottinghamshire on this ground for 11 years, so it will have felt almost like a debut wicket.
At least better was to follow for the visiting team. Jeet Raval, the New Zealander who has taken over from his compatriot Kane Williamson as overseas player, had the misfortune to run into a particularly good ball from the left-arm of Harry Gurney, which took out his middle and off stumps, but Harry Brook played nicely for his 47 before Gary Ballance, whose patchy form this season has been in keeping with most of his team-mates, responded to the crisis with a timely century.
Brook was out a little tamely, chipping straight to midwicket soon after Samit Patel had begun a 22-over unbroken stint at the pavilion end, but after their alliance had added 78 for the third wicket, Ballance found another solid and adaptable partner in Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who batted with valuable restraint to be unbeaten at the close.
Ballance's century is the first by any Yorkshire batsman since his own against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl in June, which is a telling statistic. Kohler-Cadmore could not get in the side at the beginning of the season but has an opportunity now, his half-century here following on from 81 against Somerset last week.
Although there were a few deliveries early in his innings that unsettled him, Ballance eventually began to look comfortable. He scored 76 of his runs in boundaries, often worked off his legs but with a few punchy drives through the off side too.
He fell soon after completing his hundred, when Patel - the man of the day for Nottinghamshire - spun one across him to have him caught bat and pad at short leg. Earlier, Patel and Matt Milnes, who made a career-best 43, batted freely in an eighth-wicket stand of 90 that secured maximum batting points for Nottinghamshire for the first time this season.
There is not too much in this pitch now but the first overs of the third day may be pivotal, as they often are. If Yorkshire can score another 41 runs to achieve their first objective, they will have a chance to make their second.