Chris Waters: Numbers add up to overdue appreciation of batting depth

Liam Plunkrett goes on the attack during his innings of 86 against Warwickshire.
Liam Plunkrett goes on the attack during his innings of 86 against Warwickshire.
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GREETINGS, dear reader.

Permit me to start this week’s column with a few numbers...

677, 505, 407, 450, 572, 390, 433, 617, 302, 407, 274, 326, 210, 434, 450, 459, 178, 589, 444.

Any guesses?

A complex mathematical sequence, perhaps?

No.

A list of raffle numbers?

No.

A list of house numbers on a particularly long street?

Give over.

Oh, alright then, I’ll tell you.

It’s a list of Yorkshire’s first innings totals in County Championship cricket stretching back to April last year.

Impressive, is it not?

For after being bowled out for 96 and 177 in the first innings of their opening two matches in 2012, Yorkshire’s batting has been strikingly consistent.

Indeed, their average first innings score since then is 428.

This year, they have totalled 400-plus at least once in each of their six first-class games – including 454 in the opening match against Leeds-Bradford MCCU and 416 in the second innings of the game against Middlesex at Lord’s.

What is particularly interesting, it seems to me, is that Yorkshire’s batting often goes unnoticed.

Because their bowling reserves are so strong, with a skilled and varied pace attack in Tim Bresnan, Ryan Sidebottom, Jack Brooks, Liam Plunkett and Steve Patterson, you tend to forget their strength with the bat.

But those are seriously impressive scores that have underpinned the bowlers’ efforts.

For with totals like that, and with bowlers of the type that Yorkshire possess, it is no surprise that they almost won the Championship last year and are many people’s favourites to win it this year.

As with all strong sides, Yorkshire are not reliant on one or two players.

Everyone, it seems, chips in at some stage, and if someone is out of form then someone else invariably steps up to the plate.

Indeed, if you analyse the efforts of all the batsmen and bowlers, you will see that everyone brings something to the overall mix. Runs and wickets are shared around.

Yorkshire are a collective force rather than just a team of one or two talented players.

Even when it seemed that the record of having scored at least 400 in every game so far was going to come a cropper against Warwickshire last week, Yorkshire somehow contrived to keep it going.

They slipped to 181-6 in the game at Headingley only for the last four wickets to add 263.

Plunkett struck a Yorkshire-best 86, Bresnan contributed 61, and Patterson chipped in with 
43.

Yorkshire have notable depth to their batting.

“To score 400 in every Championship match so far is really impressive – especially when we were under the pump a bit at 181-6 against Warwickshire,” 
said first-team coach Jason Gillespie.

“The way Bres played, the way Liam and Patto played, it was just a fantastic performance really, and it showed the strength in depth that we’ve got.”

If Yorkshire can maintain this bulk of scoring, the bowlers’ task over the coming months as they look to justify their favourites’ tag can only become easier.

And although bowlers are the ones who win you matches, it is batsmen, of course, who create the foundation.