Nottinghamshire Outlaws v Yorkshire CCC: Vikings target early T20 Blast quarter-final spot at Trent Bridge
YORKSHIRE are targeting an end to their Trent Bridge hoodoo as they aim to book their place in the Twenty20 quarter-finals for the first time in five years.
Yorkshire will cement their spot in the last eight if they beat current holders and North Group leaders Nottinghamshire at a ground where the White Rose have lost more times (13) than at any other on their travels in T20, including on seven of their last eight visits.
The last of Yorkshire’s four victories in the format at Trent Bridge came in 2015, and their T20 away record remains a concern, with three defeats out of four on the road this season.
In contrast, Yorkshire have won six out six at their Headingley headquarters to go into tonight’s fixture in second place, two points behind Notts, with the top-four from the North and South groups advancing to the quarters.
“I think it’s been a good team effort so far with some outstanding individual performances throughout the competition,” commented Martyn Moxon, the Yorkshire director of cricket.
“I think the batting, by and large, has been excellent, and individuals have stood up and put in some match-winning contributions.
“I think the consistency of Harry Brook with the bat has been excellent throughout, Lockie Ferguson has made a big difference to us with the ball, and Dom Bess, in particular, has bowled really well.
“Jonny Bairstow did fantastically well for us at the start, when it was great to have the England lads available and when we gained a lot of confidence from getting some early wins on the board, and we’ve had all bases covered along the way – people who can strike the ball, good seamers, good spinners, younger players who are improving, and so on.
“At the same time, there’s still room for improvement, there’s no doubt about that, and that’s what we’re working hard to achieve.
“Our away record, for example, is certainly something we want to improve, and just as we know our conditions really well at Headingley, it all comes down to assessing conditions and playing to those conditions better away from home, with bat and ball.
“All in all, our form has been good – as has the character and desire the players have shown.
“The bounce-back last Friday night against Lancashire, for example, to win that game after being bowled out for 80-odd at Edgbaston a couple of days earlier, showed a huge amount of character and the spirit that exists among the players.”
Cracking the complexities of Trent Bridge is Yorkshire’s next challenge, one which many a team, in fairness, has struggled with down the years.
Nottinghamshire are a strong force in the T20 format and, like Yorkshire, especially expert on their own patch.
“They’re a good team, they know their conditions and they use home advantage extremely well,” said Moxon. “Normally you’ve got one shorter side boundary at Trent Bridge and they protect that very well when they bowl. They’re just a strong team who are difficult to beat.
“From a batting point of view they’ve tended to be slower pitches there that turn a little bit, and playing in those conditions we’ve struggled at times.
“Having said that, two years ago we played really well down there until the last couple of overs and didn’t quite get over the line, so it’s not that we’re incapable of doing it.
“We’ve just got to get the complete package right on the night – bowling well enough to protect that short boundary, and just playing well enough in the conditions that we’ll face.
“It will be a used pitch again, I think, because they’re struggling with the number of pitches that’s required, similar to us at Headingley, to be honest, with The Hundred and everything else that’s going on at the moment, international matches and so on, so there’ll be a used pitch and we’ve got to adapt to it quickly.
“But we’ll go there with confidence after what has been a good tournament for us generally up to this point.”
Victory tonight would see Yorkshire qualify with two group games left – a nice safety net should things go wrong tonight.
Yorkshire travel to Lancashire on July 17 and then play their final group match at Derbyshire the following day.
Moxon confirmed that Yorkshire would have Ferguson, the New Zealand fast bowler, for any quarter-final, which would need to be played away from home regardless of where Yorkshire finished in the group.
The quarter-finals clash with the Headingley Test between England and India in late August, with Ferguson available after The Hundred, a competition in which he will feature for the Manchester Originals.