Chris Waters - Honest appraisal is the platform for Yorkshire’s T20 rebuild
THE TABLE shows that Yorkshire finished fifth in the T20 Blast North Group, one place and two points off reaching the quarter-finals. The table is misleading.
Yorkshire never looked like making the last eight and went into their penultimate game bottom of the group.
But victories over Northants and then Birmingham in their final match put a deceptive gloss on events, one which could not mask the reality that Yorkshire were once more miles off the pace in the 20-over format.
For the sixth time in seven years, Yorkshire failed to reach the knockouts, a record that rather speaks for itself.
It is a record at odds with the talent at Yorkshire’s disposal, their resources as one of the biggest clubs in the country, the amount of money that they’ve thrown at signing good overseas players and the ambition, hard work and commitment that exists behind the scenes.
However, rather like Jimmy White and the World Snooker Championship, or Liverpool and the Premier League, Yorkshire have never cracked the 20-over game.
The closest they’ve come was losing to Hampshire in the 2012 final and then Durham in the 2016 semi; they have not won a white-ball trophy of any sort for 17 years.
Two particularly candid admissions struck me during this latest campaign.
First, coach Andrew Gale admitted halfway through that Yorkshire didn’t know what their best team was, and, second, director of cricket Martyn Moxon conceded that Yorkshire’s T20 practices had to change, with more middle-based practice as opposed to nets in an effort to better replicate the pressure of match situations.
This type of honesty can only bode well.
Yorkshire used 19 players in their 10 completed games (four matches were washed out), highlighting Gale’s efforts to find the right formula, while crumbling under pressure was a recurring theme.
Yorkshire lost three games narrowly and tied another that they should have won, missing out on seven points which, had all been accepted, would have seen them top the group. Once again, it was all ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ and ‘maybes’.
The reason Yorkshire had to chop and change so much was two-fold: first, they suffered injuries to key bowlers Matt Fisher and Josh Poysden early on, while they had sporadic use of overseas players and a loan signing.
Second, and most simply, there were not enough players performing well enough.
In the final analysis, it is all about players, and perhaps only half-a-dozen could look themselves in the eye and feel that they did well.
With the bat, only Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Adam Lyth and, in his brief stint as an overseas, Nicholas Pooran did the business, while it said much that Lyth was the leading wicket-taker followed by new-kid-on-the-block Jack Shutt.
There were not enough match-winning contributions from experienced men, some of whom have international pedigree. Yorkshire struggled to control the run-rate at the start and end of their opponents’ innings and also to finish off games with the bat.
Poor decision-making was an Achilles heel; time and again, an unnecessary risk would be taken to unravel hard work, and there was not enough of what the coaches like to call good “innings management”.
They say that the first step towards solving a problem is to admit that you have a problem, so Yorkshire’s candid reflections are a welcome development.
Ultimately, though, it all comes down to players delivering when the pressure is on and proving that they are still good enough to represent Yorkshire.