THERE IS nothing particularly remarkable about a cricketer signing a new contract with his county, especially a county of the stature of Yorkshire.
Cricket is not yet like football, where there seem to be more transfer windows than the number of windows on an advent calendar, and where players change clubs more often than Tiger Woods.
At the same time, Yorkshire will be delighted to have secured the services until the end of 2021 of two of their most talented young players, wicketkeeper Jonny Tattersall and batsman Harry Brook, which comes hot on the heels of new extensions for England Test captain Joe Root and pace bowler Ben Coad.
With the club hopeful that Jonny Bairstow will soon commit his future, it is a much happier situation than just a few months ago, when there was an unusual amount of player movement as Jack Brooks, Liam Plunkett, Alex Lees and Azeem Rafiq departed for various reasons and Andrew Hodd hung up his wicketkeeping gloves.
Hodd’s retirement, allied to Bairstow’s international involvement, opened the door for Tattersall, who grabbed his chance with both hands. The former England U19 batsman, who turned 24 last Saturday, was the most striking emergent last season –and a somewhat surprising one given that he only seriously took up wicketkeeping last winter as a way into the first XI not solely contingent on his batting.
A respectable return of 350 runs in seven County Championship games at 31.81, allied to three half-centuries in white-ball cricket and some assured performances behind the stumps, has been rewarded with a new three-year deal.
Brook’s two-year-extension follows a highly promising start to his career, with the 19-year-old achieving his maiden hundred in the Championship game at Essex last May, a match-winning contribution after Yorkshire had been routed for 50 in their first innings.
While Brook has been involved with Yorkshire since 2012, working his way up to the point where one senses that next summer might well produce some striking progress, Tattersall’s journey has been anything but smooth.
After making one first team appearance in 2013, Tattersall was released at the end of 2015 only to impress after being invited back to play for the second team and earning a one-year contract for the summer just gone.
“When you get released, you don’t automatically think, ‘I’ll go away for a couple of years and come straight back’,” said Tattersall, who had provisionally signed a one-year extension for 2019 midway through last season.
“I thought I’d have to look elsewhere, and maybe if I’d have done well for someone else, maybe Yorkshire would want me back.
“It didn’t pan out like that, but I remember when (director of cricket) Martyn Moxon had a meeting with me when I got released and said to me, ‘This isn’t the end of Jonny Tattersall’, and that has been proven by me going away and working hard and the club taking me back.
“They know what I’m like as a character, and I didn’t feel let down at all or that any bridges were burnt.”
Tattersall surprised himself with how well he took to wicketkeeping and said his next target was to start scoring hundreds - the expected output of the modern gloveman. Moxon also conceded that the speed of Tattersall’s development took the club by surprise.
“From last winter, when it was suggested about trying to get into the first team as a wicketkeeper and working hard on it through the winter, I don’t think any of us expected him to have the success he did so quickly,” he said. “Hopefully, he’ll go from strength to strength.”
Big things are also expected of Brook, who is currently playing grade cricket in Sydney. “It’s a huge honour to be playing at one of the biggest clubs in the world,” he said. “To make it another three years is brilliant, and having that security will enable me to go out and express myself on the field.
“I had a good start (last season); I got a couple of fifties and a hundred at the start of the year, and then it dropped off and I ended up with just short of 600 runs.
“That’s ok for the first year, but there’s never enough runs to be had – you can always try and get more, and that’s what I’ll be doing next year.”
Moxon said: “Harry is someone we see as having a great future in the game. It’s important we don’t underestimate his bowling as well. He hasn’t bowled much in the first team yet, but he’s certainly capable. We expect him to learn from his experience of last season, grow in the game and become an outstanding player.”