JASON GILLESPIE is refusing to use Yorkshire’s full-blown pursuit of the County Championship title to excuse his side’s disappointing form in T20 cricket.
Yorkshire’s determination to win back-to-back titles is evidenced by the way they rest leading bowlers in the game’s shortest format.
Ryan Sidebottom does not feature in T20, while fellow Championship strike bowler Jack Brooks has appeared in only two of the nine group games and fellow pace man Steve Patterson in only five as Yorkshire seek to manage their workloads.
The strategy has helped make Yorkshire the standout side in the Championship, but as they prepared for tonight’s T20 match against Durham at Headingley, first team coach Gillespie said the squad should still be able to challenge in both competitions.
“We’ve definitely got the strength in depth to compete in the Championship and also in T20,” he said. “There are absolutely no excuses there.
“The simple truth is, we’ve been inconsistent in T20. We’ve either batted really well and bowled poorly, or we’ve bowled really well and batted poorly, and we just haven’t strung any consistency together.”
Gillespie’s honesty betrays his frustration with Yorkshire’s T20 showings.
Although the Championship is the No 1 priority, the club have made no secret of their desire to win T20 silverware.
Yorkshire have only once reached Finals Day – in Gillespie’s first season at the helm in 2012 – and they have signed two world-class batsmen this time in the form of Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell. But they go into tonight’s contest (7pm start) second-bottom of the North Group after three victories, one tie and five defeats.
“Our bowling in Twenty20 has been average at best,” added Gillespie.
“Take away young Matthew Fisher, and I think it has been pretty poor, to be perfectly honest.
“We need to be better, and we will be.
“We’re managing a few of our bowlers and trying to look after them, but every team is doing that, and we’ve got a squad that is good enough to do well.”
Fisher is Yorkshire’s leading wicket-taker in T20 with 10 at an average of 19.10.
The 17-year-old pace bowler made an immediate impact by taking 5-22 on his T20 debut at home to Derbyshire.
“I managed to get a five-wicket haul on debut and that really settled me into it, and I have taken that confidence into other matches,” said Fisher.
“It has been a great experience playing against top players in a tough environment.
“Dizzy (Gillespie) has really helped me and he keeps things very simple. He endorses the fact that you have to enjoy yourself and treat these matches like any other.
“Aaron Finch has also been brilliant. At the death, he’ll come up to me and give me a few tips of what I need to do and how I should be executing my skills.
“Having him at mid-off has really benefited my approach.”
Fisher believes Yorkshire must win their remaining five group games to reach the knockout stages.
“We have five matches left and, in all honesty, we probably need to win all of them to qualify for the quarter-finals,” he said.
“We are certainly capable of it. We have talked about the disappointing performances and the way we have approached each game.
“I think the talking has to stop now and we have to nail our skills together in every performance.”
Yorkshire welcome back England’s Adil Rashid and Liam Plunkett into tonight’s 14-man squad.
Yorkshire (from): Bairstow, Bresnan, Coad, Finch, Fisher, Gale (captain), Gibson, Leaning, Lees, Maxwell, Plunkett, Rashid, Rhodes, Shaw.