Martyn Moxon’s summary of Yorkshire’s 2020 season would doubtless chime with the majority opinion, and although there was disappointment that the club failed to add to their trophy collection, there were mitigating circumstances both meteorological and medical which conspired to frustrate them in that target.
First, the meteorological – Yorkshire lost circa 500 overs to rain and bad light in the Bob Willis Trophy, which denied them the chance to push for victory on a couple of occasions and gain sufficient points to reach the final.
Second, the medical – six games into their 10-match T20 group campaign, with the club striving to push for a quarter-final place, Yorkshire lost four key players to Covid-19: captain David Willey, who tested positive for the virus, plus batsman Tom Kohler-Cadmore, pace bowler Matthew Fisher and leg-spinner Josh Poysden, with whom Willey had come into contact socially away from Yorkshire’s cricketing “bubble”.
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There followed three successive defeats which hammered the nails into the coffin of that particular ambition as Yorkshire were left to rue what might have been.
For Moxon, though, on the weekend that the season finally ends with T20 Finals Day at Edgbaston, there were plenty of good signs moving forward – not least the performance of the club’s young players. The director of cricket was delighted that so many took their opportunity.
“We always said that we wanted to use this year to find out as much as we could about our squad, and I think we did that,” he said. “We found out mostly good things. Yes, there’s still areas we need to be better, but there are lots more pluses than minuses.
“We just need, hopefully, a full season of cricket next year for these younger players to gain more experience and to get more cricket under their belts.”
It will never be known what Yorkshire might have achieved this year but for the pandemic. Moxon had helped to build a squad which, on paper, was certainly good enough to challenge to win the County Championship and which might have pulled up trees in white-ball cricket, too.
Considering that they did field so many youngsters, and that they were hit by problems with illness and the weather, Yorkshire can be satisfied with their efforts.
Ever the perfectionist, Moxon is still lamenting the unfortunate end to the T20 season, but he was heartened by the good things the side accomplished.
“It was just unfortunate that the last nine days of our season kind of took the edge off what was becoming quite a promising short season,” he said.
“Not to qualify for the T20 quarter-finals was disappointing, not just because we lost those four players, but even without those four we still feel we should have won three of the games we lost towards the end.
“We lost at Leicester rather than them winning it, and certainly against Durham and Lancashire we were disappointed not to chase down totals. Overall, though, winning our group in the Bob Willis Trophy was a good performance, and to finish only three points from getting to the final when we had two games badly affected by the weather reflected well on the players.”
None more so than those younger players, led by all-rounder Jordan Thompson. Yorkshire fielded practically a full team of youngsters across the two tournaments, the product of circumstance at times but also the result of forward-thinking team selection and the success of the club’s production line.
“The way that the younger players came in and started to really contribute to winning games, that was a big positive,” added Moxon.
“People like Jordan Thompson, who played every game; it was a huge positive the way that he matured in his four-day cricket, particularly the way that he batted.
“Jonny Tattersall made telling contributions. Harry Brook looked a more mature player as well in that (red-ball) format.
“I know he got injured, but Matthew Fisher again showed his capabilities with the red ball, and if he can stay fit then he’s an outstanding prospect going forward.
“You can go on and on really… to see Dominic Leech come in and do well. George Hill also came in and looked comfortable in the surroundings. Tom Loten got another shot at it, and so on. It just gives these lads a bit of a taste as to how they need to improve and the level that they need to achieve if they’re going to go on now and play regular first-team cricket.
“The same goes for Sam Wisniewski and James Wharton in the T20 games as well. They gained valuable experience for the future.”
Moxon is full of praise for the squad overall following a challenging summer due to the Covid restrictions.
“I was really happy with the attitude of the squad,” he said. “In difficult circumstances, we had no moaning whatsoever. The lads got on with it and dealt with all the protocols that were in place.
“We’ve got a squad that wants to learn and get better, and I’m really happy with the environment we’ve got at the minute.”
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Thank you, James Mitchinson. Editor.