GARY BALLANCE is backing Yorkshire’s batting line-up to continue the improvement shown in their last five County Championship matches, dating back to the start of last September.

Ballance scored a superb, battling unbeaten 101 in the second innings against Nottinghamshire on Monday as he and Joe Root (130 not out) helped secure a draw at Trent Bridge.

The pair shared 253 for the third wicket after Yorkshire had been set a target of 447 against Stuart Broad and company.

Yorkshire finished on 277-2, one of a number of healthy totals since the start of last September when they pulled clear of Specsavers Division One relegation danger to finish fourth.

Ballance is confident they can show more of the same against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl, starting today, and beyond.

The former captain said: “At the back end of last year, we played well and posted a few good totals, which we did again on Monday. Getting those big scores is a habit, and it will definitely help our bowlers.

“We have a good batting line-up with Rooty in there - and, when he goes, there are other good players who have scored plenty of runs.

“Lythy got a good 80 in the first innings (against Notts), and other guys got some big runs in pre-season and against Leeds/Bradford a couple of weeks ago.”

Yorkshire were by no means at their best with either bat or ball in a game which Notts had the better of. But there were definite signs of encouragement, including a debut five-wicket haul for Duanne Olivier in the first innings.

“We could have been better,” accepted Ballance.

“In the first innings, we should have got 350. But it wasn’t easy against their attack. And Notts played well.

“We were certainly pleased with how we got through on Monday. We fought hard.

“When you come into a day that you know will be tough, it gives you a big lift when you get through it. Not just myself and Rooty, but the whole dressing room. It puts us in a good place for Hampshire.”

Hampshire started their campaign with a home win by an innings and 87 runs against Essex. Sam Northeast starred with 169 before former Test fast bowlers Fidel Edwards and Kyle Abbott claimed five-wicket hauls.

But Ballance returns to a ground he loves playing at.

He has scored two centuries and a double-hundred in his last two Championship matches there, both draws, and averages 73.86 across six four-day appearances.

The left-hander also scored a Test 156 against India at the Southampton venue in 2014.

“Sometimes you just like playing at certain grounds,” he said. “Trent Bridge is one of them. I have a decent record there, as I do at the Ageas Bowl.

“It’s a good wicket, and you can get some really big scores if you get a good start. I’m looking forward to it.

“Hampshire are a tough team who have started with a win.”

This will be Root’s final Championship appearance before England’s summer of internationals begin next month, although he could yet feature in the early stages of the Royal London one-day Cup from next week.

He hit 73 and the aforementioned unbeaten 130 against Notts.

“He batted brilliantly and showed his class. It’s great for English cricket to have him scoring runs given the summer ahead,” added Ballance.