CAPTAIN Steve Patterson has hailed predecessor Gary Ballance’s impressive return to the game, describing the former skipper as a major asset to Yorkshire.

Ballance missed approximately three weeks of cricket in May due to fatigue like symptoms, and he also stepped away from the captaincy on a permanent basis.

But the England fringe left-hander has returned to batting in mightily impressive fashion.

His comeback game was a Royal London One-Day Cup clash with Leicestershire at Grace Road when he was not required to bat in a big win.

But, since then, he has posted scores of 27, 38, 66, 91, 25, 109, 21, 54, 15, 0 and 79 across all formats - the last of those coming in yesterday’s Vitality Blast defeat against Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston.

“We’ve known for years how good Gary is as a player and how consistent he is,” said seamer Patterson.

“He’s had a tough time earlier in the summer, and the captaincy was weighing on him a bit. But I’m happy for him that he can now go out and play with that freedom and not have anything other than batting on his mind.

“It’s shown how good he can be when we get him full of confidence and relaxed.

“He’s been an asset to us for a number of years, and he will be for a long time to come.”

Patterson continued: “He’s got the capability to do anything he wants in the game. He’s that good a player.

“He can play every shot in the book and reads the game very well. He showed that on Sunday.

“He’s one of those who you’d far rather have on your team than play against him.”

Although Ballance has stepped away from the captaincy, he said after scoring a Championship century against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl that he still wanted to take a senior role in the Yorkshire side, be it helping young players or offering advice to Patterson.

“Gary will always help me out,” added the skipper.

“He’s got a very good cricket brain and understands how the game goes. He’ll always be there to offer views and opinions.

“Hopefully him not having to make those decisions and it being in the back of his mind will just free him up a bit and allow to keep playing as he has done of late.

“If he does that consistently, we’ll win a lot more games than we lose.”