Lots of hard work ahead, says Gillespie, despite increasing lead at top of table

EYE ON THE BALL: Yorkshire first-team coach Jason Gillespie.

EYE ON THE BALL: Yorkshire first-team coach Jason Gillespie.

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JASON GILLESPIE last night refused to concede that the title race is over, despite his Yorkshire side taking a 34-point lead at the top of the County Championship with a game in hand on all their rivals.

Yorkshire stretched their advantage at the head of the First Division with a seven-wicket win over Worcestershire at Scarborough.

With around one-third of the season left, they are odds-on to record their second successive Championship crown.

But first team coach Gillespie is taking nothing for granted.

Asked if the title race was done and dusted, the Australian said: “No, far from it.

“We’re very honest about that.

“That’s not just me saying it in the media. That’s what we genuinely believe.

“For us, we don’t want to be looking too far ahead.

“Yes, we’re very pleased to be in this position, but there’s a lot of cricket still to be played.

“If we focus on the process – what we need to do in each and every game – the end result will look after itself.

“If we start looking at the end result, we’ll forget what we need to do in order to get there.”

Yorkshire’s fifth straight victory gave them an overall record this summer of seven wins and three draws from 10 matches.

But Gillespie believes there is room for improvement.

“Although we were obviously pleased to come away with full points, we weren’t at our best against Worcestershire,” he said.

“It wasn’t our best performance, and we acknowledge that.

“We had a couple of big partnerships in the match – one in the first innings and one in the second – but we haven’t really nailed that side of things.

“At the same time, we’re still finding ways to get decent totals and still finding ways to bowl sides out. I thought our bowling on the third morning at Scarborough, when we allowed Worcestershire to get so close to avoiding the follow-on, was really poor quite honestly.

“We didn’t get our lines-and-lengths right, and if balls are good enough to get the top-six out, they’re good enough to get the tail out too. The pleasing thing, though, is we’re finding ways to win even when we’re not at our best. But we know we can be better going forward.”

Yorkshire will have to go forward without star batsman Jonny Bairstow, who is in the England squad for the third Ashes Test starting at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

Bairstow signed off from Yorkshire action for the time being with an unbeaten 74 that helped his side to a hard-fought victory.

“Jonny played wonderfully well, and he goes into the Ashes in superb form,” said Gillespie.

“We wish him all the best, and hopefully he can score some runs for England. The ball is in his court. We’re just delighted that he’s got an opportunity.

“We’ve got mixed emotions at the club in terms of losing him, but Jonny’s done everything he possibly could to have got back into the Test team.

“He was told to score as many runs as he could, and he’s done just that. I don’t think he could have done any more.”

Steve Rhodes, the Worcestershire director of cricket and ex-Yorkshire player, was pleased with his team’s valiant display at North Marine Road.

Worcestershire fought hard against a Yorkshire attack that included four full internationals.

“That’s a Test attack, and they’ve steam-rolled a few sides in the division,” said Rhodes.

“We scored 586 runs in the match and kept them out there for six sessions, which was a game effort from what are meant to be the whipping boys.”

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