YORKSHIRE have confirmed Steve Patterson as their captain “for the foreseeable future”.
The 35-year-old pace bowler, who took the job on an interim basis last May before being appointed until the end of the summer, will continue to lead in all three formats.
Yorkshire described it as “an easy decision” to stick with Patterson, who was thrust into the role when Gary Ballance stepped down due to health issues.
Ballance took a two-week break from the game after admitting that matters had been getting on top of him, saying at the time: “It just felt like there was quite a lot of burden on me, in terms of pressure and expectation, and it has got a lot tougher over the last few weeks.”
Now restored to full health and his run-scoring best, Ballance will be a key member of Patterson’s side as Yorkshire look to put behind them two difficult seasons in which they have flirted with relegation in the County Championship.
Yorkshire have been keen to stress that they are a side in transition, with head coach Andrew Gale estimating that they are “two or three years” from being genuine title challengers again, but Patterson has the nucleus of a strong squad – particularly on the bowling front – that could potentially see Yorkshire surprise a few people in the coming months.
In young batsmen Harry Brook, Tom Kohler-Cadmore and new signing Will Fraine, Patterson sees players who could “go on and have some real success”.
He said that he is “excited” at the thought of helping nurture them, adding: “I see in the group what I saw six or seven years ago when Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Gary Ballance and Adam Lyth were young and were all developing in their own way.”
Patterson represents a sound appointment even if Yorkshire were not exactly blessed with a superfluity of alternatives.
In addition to his experience and class with the ball, which helped Yorkshire to the 2014 and 2015 Championship titles, they see him as an intelligent tactician and a cool head under pressure, not to mention a man who upholds the traditional values of Yorkshire cricket, encapsulated by a fierce determination to win and an equally fierce pride in wearing the White Rose badge.
I want that message to run through the lads and to make sure when we go out there we’re representing the county, those people that follow us and support us day in, day out.Steve Patterson
Indeed, as he reflected on his permanent appointment Patterson spoke in terms that reflected the ethos of the great Yorkshire captains from Lord Hawke in the 19th century right through to Gale in the modern era.
“For me it’s about what we represent,” he said. “I’ve grown up supporting the club from being a young kid.
“It was my dream to play for Yorkshire, so to go and play for and then captain Yorkshire means everything to me.
“I want that message to run through the lads and to make sure when we go out there we’re representing the county, those people that follow us and support us day in, day out.
“I want us to make a statement every week about who we represent.”
Having been unexpectedly propelled into the spotlight last year, Patterson believes he can now put more of a mark on the captaincy role.
“It came about in a strange fashion last year and I didn’t have much time to prepare for it,” he said.
“I just ran with it as best I could and tried to get us through the season.
“Having the winter to plan and prepare will enable me to put my stamp on it, and to try and influence it the way I’d like to, with a good bunch of exciting lads.”
Patterson first played for Yorkshire in 2005 and has captured 372 first-class wickets for the county at an average of 27.84.
His leadership skills have made a strong impression on the Yorkshire hierarchy, who liked what they saw from him during an often turbulent 2018.
“Steve did fantastically well last summer both on and off the field,” said director of cricket Martyn Moxon.
“He’s relishing the role and has got his feet under the table now, and it’s an easy decision for him to continue as captain for the foreseeable future.
“When you’re under pressure and a couple of decisions go against you, you need that calm head to calm everyone down and not panic.
“Steve’s very good at that; he’s very capable in taking the heat out of situations, thinking logically and calmly and making the right decisions at pressure times. Last year he was outstanding at being able to do that.
“He is comfortable with his own game, and I think as a captain you have to be. You have to be comfortable in your own skin, as it were, and Steve has got to that point now where he is.
“He knows what he’s doing from his own game point of view, and as a person, and that stands him in good stead for his role as captain and all the things that go with it.”
Gale remarked: “I thought he did an outstanding job last year and he’s an intelligent lad.
“He knows his cricket, is vastly experienced and has the respect of the players.
“He speaks well in the group, and the players reacted well to him at the back end of last season.
“He has grown into the role, and I think he’s a good fit.”