Chris Waters: Obvious talent in Yorkshire’s batting line-up needs to be reawakened

Yorkshire's Jack Leaning.
Yorkshire's Jack Leaning.
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THESE are early days in Yorkshire’s quest to win a hat-trick of County Championship titles.

They have only just finished their second game and the season is not yet out of nappies.

Yorkshire's Alex Lees walks off dejected as he is dismissed by Hampshire's James Tomlinson at Headingley. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

Yorkshire's Alex Lees walks off dejected as he is dismissed by Hampshire's James Tomlinson at Headingley. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

However, there will be concern that an issue that worried them in 2015 has not yet disappeared.

Yorkshire’s batting remains inconsistent, and is something that they are working hard at to address.

In each of their four Championship innings so far, Yorkshire have lost early wickets.

In their opening game against Hampshire at Headingley, they were 41-3 in the first innings before a fourth-wicket stand of 205 between Adam Lyth and Jonny Bairstow.

Jonny Bairstow has started the 2016 season where he left off last year for Yorkshire. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Jonny Bairstow has started the 2016 season where he left off last year for Yorkshire. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Later, a further double-century stand between Bairstow and Liam Plunkett helped Yorkshire to a final score of 593-9 declared.

However, four of the top-six contributed just 20 runs to that total.

In the second innings, Yorkshire found themselves 43-4 before a stand of 73 between Andrew Gale and Jack Leaning.

It was only a minor recovery as Yorkshire reached 183-8 before hands were shaken.

Afterwards, Gale – whose 46 was the highest score after Yorkshire dominated the first half of the match – admitted that Yorkshire could not keep relying on Bairstow’s “unbelievable contributions”.

The England man hit a career-best 246 in the first innings, having scored 1,108 Championship runs last year at 92.

In a few weeks, Bairstow will link-up with England once again to begin preparations for their three-match Test series against Sri Lanka.

Yorkshire will thus be faced with the question: how do you replace the irreplaceable?

However, Yorkshire – who will be strengthened by overseas batsmen Kane Williamson and Travis Head later in the summer – could hardly be called a one-man team.

They have talent and depth in their batting and players with proven records – players who, as Gale acknowledged, need to stand up and take responsibility.

Gale himself hit 1,000 Championship runs last season, while Lyth and Gary Ballance played Test cricket as recently as last summer, with Ballance, in particular, having already put some good scores on the board.

Alex Lees has been tipped as a future Test player, and Leaning is another highly-rated prospect.

Of course, early-season conditions must be factored in. There has been some rain and even snow and sleet around, and it is traditionally a time of year for bowlers.

However, Yorkshire also struggled against the MCC in Abu Dhabi in the curtain-raiser to the English campaign.

They were 88-5 in their first innings before a stand of 125 between Ballance and Will Rhodes helped them to 275, and in the second innings they slipped to 147-6 before almost doubling their total in a match they lost by four wickets.

Last week, against Warwickshire at Edgbaston, Yorkshire were 85-4 before a fifth-wicket stand of 102 between Ballance and Leaning. They also fell to 37-2 in their short second innings.

Clearly, one cannot expect batsmen to score runs every time they go to the crease, and the most important statistic is that Yorkshire are back-to-back champions.

But coach Jason Gillespie wants more ruthlessness from the top-order and specifically more partnerships in a relentless attempt to drive up standards.

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