MATTHEW FISHER insists he is ready to embrace the pressure and sees Yorkshire’s progression to the Royal London Cup knockout stages as an opportunity for him to stamp his name on the 50-over format.
The 20-year-old seam bowler played an integral role in Thursday’s four-wicket win over Northamptonshire at Emerald Headingley, as Yorkshire ensured qualification to the latter stages of the competition.
Fisher and fellow opening bowler David Willey took three wickets apiece to help bowl the visitors out for 241 with more than two of their allotted overs remaining.
In reply, Yorkshire stumbled to 134-5, with Willey leading the charge with a typically-brisk 71.
But any doubts as to the result were put aside thanks to the efforts of Gary Ballance (66) and Jonny Tattersall, who ended the day on 52 not out after steering his side home alongside the returning Tim Bresnan.
The triumph set up a quarter-final play-off against Essex at Chelmsford next Thursday with victory there ensuring a semi-final showdown at Hampshire.
Yorkshire will be without their England contingent due to the forthcoming one-day series against Australia, with India’s Cheteshwar Pujara also unavailable.
But while that may ensure Andrew Gale’s team head into the knockout stages as firm underdogs, Fisher is confident others can step up to help carry Yorkshire all the way to the showpiece final at Lord’s on June 30.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves over the availability issue – if you do, the game will go, you’ll lose it and you then have regrets,” said Fisher. “We will go down to Essex in high spirits.
“It is going to be tough at Chelmsford and some of us have got to step up now the England one-day lads have gone, as well as Cheteshwar Pujara.
I see a real opportunity for me to try and stamp my name on a game and a competition when the pressure is on. That’s what I’ll be trying to do.Matthew Fisher
“But the confidence we have gained from winning some really tight games recently should, hopefully, stand us in good stead.
“We had the Derbyshire game that we won with the bat, then the Lancashire game we won with the ball. Against Northants, the batsmen did the job again to get us over the line. So we’re very happy with how things are going.
Fisher himself has been impressive so far in the competition and appears more than happy to take on the extra responsibilty that will now be required of himself and others around him.
“I’ve always wanted to be a part of a winning team and to contribute a lot in all formats of the game,” he added. “But, with the players going away, I see a real opportunity for me to try and stamp my name on a game and a competition when the pressure is on. That’s what I’ll be trying to do.
“I feel if I can contribute with bat and ball in these big games, that will set me in good stead for the rest of my career.
“It’s about competing and being the best you can be.
“Reaching the quarter-finals is just half the job. We have three more games to win.”
Fisher believes that opening the bowling as he has been doing for Yorkshire in the 50-over format has brought out the best in him.
“In two games out of four that I’ve opened, we’ve had them three down inside 10 overs – hopefully that can continue,” said Fisher.
“I have really enjoyed opening the bowling in this competition. It’s something I’ve always done.
“When I played a lot of one-day cricket for the England Under-19s a few years ago, I opened the bowling. And it’s a good time to bowl. That’s the time to get your wickets and I feel I’m much more effective with the new ball.”
While Fisher deservedly took the plaudits along with Willey and the rest of the bowling attack on Thursday, there was plenty of praise reserved both inside and outside the dressing room for the two batsmen who steered Yorkshire through a tricky spell at Headingley to ensure qualification from what proved once again to be an extremely competitive North Group.
While Ballance was his usual calm, authoritative self at one end, he was joined by Tattersall, who went on to produce a breakthrough display by complimenting an assured display behind the stumps with a first-team best score.
It was a performance that particularly delighted team-mate Fisher, who feels the 23-year-old could also prosper in the four-day format.
“Gaz is a player I really look up to – he comes in day in and day out and works his backside off,” explained Fisher.
“He is so specific with what he works on. He’s always last in the nets, and every single ball he’s trying to make himself better.
“To have a leader like that, it brings us all to that level.
“Jonny is one of the nicest blokes you will meet and playing for Yorkshire is such a massive thing for him.
“He knew he was good enough, but he just needed that performance to rubber stamp it.
“This will give him the confidence to push on in all formats.
“Even in our Championship team, him keeping and batting at No 7 could add a lot. He opens in the second team and could in the first as well.”