YORKSHIRE’s players and supporters could be forgiven for casting an envious glance towards Edgbaston today, venue for this year’s Twenty20 Finals Day.
It was a little under 12 months ago that Yorkshire graced the prestigious occasion, finishing runners-up at Cardiff’s SWALEC Stadium.
There was to be no repeat performance this time, however, as Yorkshire went from heroes to zeroes in the game’s shortest form. A record of seven defeats in 10 group games represented Yorkshire’s worst-ever showing in Twenty20 cricket – one year after they delivered their most successful campaign.
If the club’s record this time was palpably poor, it was also, in hindsight, perhaps not unexpected.
Although Yorkshire should have done better with the players at their disposal, it was two players they did not possess from last time – Mitchell Starc and David Miller – that made the crucial difference in the final analysis.
Starc, leading wicket-taker in the 2012 tournament with 21 at 10.38, and Miller, the second-highest run-scorer with 390 at 48.75, played an enormous part in Yorkshire’s success – not least in inspiring the club’s younger players to lift their games.
It was the first time Yorkshire had reached Finals Day – and no coincidence that it was the first time they had two Twenty20 specialists.
Starc was unavailable this summer due to the Ashes, while Miller pulled out of a proposed return because he said he needed a break from a hectic schedule.
But if any conclusion can be drawn from Yorkshire’s performance this year, it is this ...
Unless the club dip their toe back into the overseas market, they risk the same thing happening in 2014.
With the club victims of their own success in supplying England with Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Tim Bresnan, three more big misses this time around (although Bairstow did play in one match), it is the only way they are likely to re-scale such heights.
Of course, there is the financial aspect to consider with overseas signings. Yorkshire are some £20m in debt and face a daily challenge to balance the books.
Overseas players do not come cheap – assuming, of course, they are actually available – but it is also a question of Yorkshire’s pride and the club are likely to pull out all the stops to bring someone on board.
This year, Yorkshire have rightly prioritised the Championship, but they will be bitterly hurt by their one-day record, which has been the polar opposite of their Championship form.
A shufti at the statistics shows that Yorkshire’s Achilles heel in Twenty20 this summer was their batting. Only one player totalled over 200 runs in the 10 group games – Gary Ballance scoring 269 at 29.88.
The next highest run-scorer was Dan Hodgson with 177 at 19.66, and the next highest after that Rich Pyrah with 104 at 14.85.
Crucially, there was a glaring lack of runs in the middle overs, Yorkshire often wasting the momentum of a good start by drying up completely after the six-over powerplay and before the final assault.
The bowling statistics were actually not too bad.
Jack Brooks led the way with 13 wickets at 14.53, while Azeem Rafiq also took 13 wickets at 19.00. But without a spearhead such as Starc, Yorkshire did not have that X-factor player who could be guaranteed to blow away opponents.
It is interesting to note, also, that despite the loss of five key players in Starc, Miller, Root, Bairstow and Bresnan, Yorkshire used 19 players this time compared to 16 last year, suggesting a struggle to find the right formula.
Did Yorkshire get their tactics right?
Everyone will have their opinions. It must be remembered, too, that Yorkshire’s strategies were affected by injuries to key batsmen Andrew Gale and Phil Jaques.
But the principal reason Yorkshire are watching Twenty20 Finals Day from a distance this year is because they did not play well enough and had no overseas players to assist their cause.