Six reasons why Yorkshire CCC are simply the best again in 2015
IT has been a truly champagne campaign for Yorkshire in the County Championship in 2015 and while sampling glory last year ranked pretty highly, their feats this season have even managed to trump a momentous 2014 in a peerless campaign.
As seasons go, it has been one of the greatest in the long and proud history of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, who deserve every accolade heaped upon them, more especially with several of their players being on international duty for large chunks of the year.
Here are six reasons why Yorkshire have enjoyed another season to savour.
1: Jason Gillespie staying at the club.
The news of those developments in late May when the Aussie had been expected by many to be appointed as England’s new coach was a massive positive for everyone at the club. The ECB certainly did the county a service in opting for Trevor Bayliss.
Gillespie, to his credit, had always reaffirmed his commitment to the White Rose, with the sense that his work at Headingley was in no means done also self-evident to many.
For the former Baggy Green paceman to have left Yorkshire partway through a season would have been disruptive and given the strides he has made at the club, he would have been seriously difficult to replace.
Yorkshire have not looked back since, it is fair to say. England’s loss is the White Rose gain.
2: The red-hot form of Jonny Bairstow.
Got over his disappointment at being surprisingly over-looked by England for their one-day series with New Zealand at the start of the season in the best possible fashion, by channelling it to the benefit of the White Rose.
Set about proving the selectors wrong in the best way possible, with a welter of runs - and in the first half of the season when not all Yorkshire’s top-order batsmen fired, Bairstow was in supreme form.
At the top of his game this year and over 1,000 first-class runs speaks for itself, with the technical changes he made to his game last winter reaping a harvest. Ruthless at times.
Highlights included his peerless unbeaten knock of 125 versus Middlesex on a tough pitch to bat on and a stunning 219 not out at Durham. Centuries against Worcester at Scarborough and versus Hampshire weren’t too bad either. Or his 108 at Warwickshire, the list goes on.
3: Ryan Sidebottom - like a fine wine, he has simply got better with age.
It was no surprise that Sidebottom tore into Middlesex’s openers at Lord’s on Wednesday and set the Tykes up for a title-clinching charge in double-quick time by taking the hosts’ first four wickets. In the process, he serenely sailed past the 700 first-class wickets milestone in typically belligerent fashion.
The veteran’s contributions this season have been outstanding, with pride of place being his haul of ten wickets or more in a first-class match for the fourth time in his career in the win at Edgbaston in July. Figures of 11-76 were simply sublime.
Has proved the leader of the pack. And when he didn’t get you, then Jack Brooks, Tim Bresnan or Steve Patterson invariably would.
Despite being 37, Sidebottom has no plans to call it a day and why would he? Clearly, enjoying himself too much.
In the words of Andrew Gale, Sidey has proved a Rolls Royce and he’s purring along quite nicely, thanks.
4: Individuals stepping up to the plate at regular junctures and at key ones at that - if someone did not hold their hand up, someone else did.
A recurring theme of Yorkshire’s magnificent campaign has been individuals across their side stepping up on regular occasions, with Andrew Gale’s men sharing the workload and all enjoying their place in the sun on various occasions.
Think the win at Warwickshire, where Ryan Sidebottom and Jonny Bairstow excelled. Also think Nottinghamshire in June, with Andrew Gale and Jack Leaning came to the party. Also Durham, where Tim Bresnan and Bairstow were in awesome form.
All great sides are littered with match-winners, or game-turners, in their ranks and Yorkshire have displayed that in abundance this season, while digging in when required.
There’s plenty more examples, Bairstow, Gary Ballance, Jack Brooks and Steve Patterson at home to Somerset. The list is almost infinite.
5: Seeing off Nottinghamshire at Headingley and inflicting another psychological blow on their championship rivals in late June.
Going into the game, there was a lot of pressure on Yorkshire to keep up with Durham against strong opponents.
But the hosts excelled with a pretty faultless performance, with bat, ball and in the field, with the return of Ryan Sidebottom from injury also representing a massive fillip for the Tykes - and akin to a new signing.
A century from Gale added to the sense of good feeling in a stunning victory by an innings and eight runs.
It was a ruthless performance as Gillespie ventured and there have been several others as well.
Such as the early season home win over Middlesex when the Tykes toughed it out rather more to win by four wickets - and their three seamers bent their backs and earning another fine victory.
6: Victory over rivals Durham at the Riverside to go top.
That win at the start of July by an innings and 47 runs made it three first-class successes on the spin for the Tykes and took Yorkshire to Division One summit. They haven’t looked back since.
As statements go, it was a defining one and gave Gale’s troops the confidence to kick on in high summer and eventually turn the title race into something resembling a procession.
It was keynote win, more especially after Yorkshire lost the toss as well, with Bairstow and Bresnan taking the honours with the bat after they were toiling at 190-6.
The bowlers then proceeded to do an outstanding job on a pitch which flattened out. A classy win - and a win that smacked of Championship class.
The marquee feat saw Bairstow and Bresnan share the highest seventh-wicket stand in county cricket history when they put on an unbroken 366 to enable Yorkshire to declare on a massive 566-7 - and set up a victory roll. The stuff of champions.