CHELMSFORD has not been the happiest hunting ground for Yorkshire in one-day cricket; they have lost nine of their 14 fixtures at the venue.
But if the club are seeking a positive omen ahead of today’s Royal London Cup quarter-final at the County Ground, they need look no further than when the sides met there at the corresponding stage of the 2002 Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy, when Yorkshire triumphed en route to winning that tournament.
Yorkshire prevailed by virtue of losing fewer wickets after both teams scored 283 from their 50 overs.
Anthony McGrath and Gary Fellows led the chase with unbeaten half-centuries, Yorkshire going on to beat Surrey in the semi-final and Somerset in the final to clinch what remains their last silverware in one-day cricket.
In stark contrast to their one-day performance in 2002, Yorkshire were relegated that summer in the County Championship, one year after winning the title.
This time, the “double” is a distinct possibility, with holders Yorkshire running away with the Championship again and now only three wins from emulating the club’s one-day team of 13 years ago.
It will not be easy; Yorkshire have lost seven of their last eight one-day matches against Essex – the exception being the club’s last List A visit to Chelmsford in 2010, when Andrew Gale and Jacques Rudolph shared a remarkable stand of 233 to take their team to a 10-wicket victory – as well as their most recent knockout game at the County Ground in the semi-final of the 2008 Friends Provident Trophy.
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But Yorkshire first-team coach Jason Gillespie is quietly confident ahead of today’s match (2pm start), for which Yorkshire have all their England players available with the exception of Joe Root, who is rested after a hectic period.
“We’re really looking forward to the challenge,” said Gillespie, whose side qualified by virtue of finishing third in Group A with four wins from eight games.
“We have a chance of doing the double and we’re still in the hunt, but there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge and a lot of work to do.
“Our one-day record in recent times hasn’t been good; we fell at the quarter-final stage last year at home to Durham and played poorly.
“But we’ve played some good cricket in the tournament so far and are giving it a really good crack.”
Essex are formidable opposition on their own turf.
Chelmsford is not the easiest environment for a visiting side, where a partisan crowd tend to make themselves heard in a compact setting.
“Chelmsford has something of a unique feel about it,” said Gillespie.
“The crowd are right on top of you and they can get stuck into you a little bit.
“I’m sure there’ll be a bit of banter with the paying public.
“It’s something we know is going to happen and we just have to ride with it.”
Essex finished second in Group B with an identical record to Yorkshire.
They have some talented one-day cricketers – not least New Zealand batsman Jesse Ryder.
“The likes of Jesse Ryder are very dangerous, and he is also effective with the ball,” said Gillespie.
“But if you look down their line-up, it’s not just him.
“Mark Pettini has scored a mountain of runs, as has Ravi Bopara, while Ryan ten Doeschate is a quality player.
“Essex have got one of the best one-day records in the country in the last few years and we certainly won’t be taking them lightly.”
Yorkshire (from): Bairstow, Ballance, Bresnan, Brooks, Carver, Fisher, Hodd, Leaning, Lees (capt ), Lyth, Patterson, Plunkett, Pyrah, Rashid, Rhodes.