THE league tables could hardly make for happier reading for Yorkshire’s supporters than they do at present.
Top of the County Championship First Division with a six-point lead with three games to play, and top of Group A of the Royal London One-Day Cup after five wins from seven matches.
If Yorkshire can finish the job, what a magnificent summer they will have enjoyed.
Although the Championship remains their No 1 target, Yorkshire are having a darned good go at the 50-over tournament.
Last year’s performance in the old 40-over competition was poor; the club finished second-bottom of their group after nine defeats in 12 games.
This year, Yorkshire have got their act together and victory in today’s final group game against Hampshire at Southampton would guarantee a home quarter-final that would be held at Headingley next Tuesday or Thursday.
Having stated his belief that Yorkshire can do the double, an achievement that would emphatically end their 12-year wait for silverware, Andrew Gale, the captain, is in confident mood.
But he also acknowledges Yorkshire are by no means the finished article in one-day cricket especially, and ahead of today’s game he stressed the need for improvement if they are to win the trophy at Lord’s.
“I definitely think we can go all the way, but there are areas we need to improve to achieve our goal,” said Gale.
“We can certainly improve in the middle overs with the bat; sometimes we struggle in that department and I got bogged down in the game against Essex at Scarborough last week, for example.
“It’s an area where you don’t know whether to stick or twist sometimes, and our game plan is always to keep wickets in hand and to try to score as many runs as we can in the last 10 overs.
“Maybe we need to be a little bit more positive in those middle overs, and that’s something we can work on.
“With our bowling, sometimes we’ve not been too great in the batting powerplays. There’s been a couple of games where we’ve gone for 35-40 runs in the second five-over powerplay, and we shouldn’t be conceding that many runs.
“Overall, though, we’ve played some really good cricket in the tournament and won most of our games.
“It would be nice now to get a home quarter-final and hopefully get some people through the gate, and then let’s see where we go from there.”
Although victory on the south coast would guarantee a home tie, Yorkshire could still gain one should they lose and either Essex or Gloucestershire also lose.
Essex travel to Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire visit Derbyshire, with the top two teams in both of the two groups earning a home draw.
Yorkshire, who have obtained three of their five wins away from Leeds, against Lancashire, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, meet a Hampshire side whose interest in the tournament is already over.
Hampshire are second-bottom of Group A, having won only one of their seven matches, and defeat for them today, allied to victory for Lancashire at home to Leicestershire, would see them finish bottom.
Overall, however, Hampshire have had a good season. They are pushing hard for Championship promotion and are second behind leaders Worcestershire.
They are also through to Twenty20 Finals Day for a record fifth successive time; that event takes place at Edgbaston on Saturday.
“Hampshire are a team who have excelled in Twenty20 cricket and also one-day cricket in recent years,” said Gale.
“They might have an eye on Finals Day, but we need to go and prove our skills against them.
“It will be a good test for us, and we want to end the group campaign on a high regardless of our desire to get a home tie in the quarters. We want to get the job done.”
If Yorkshire win (2pm start), it would be their fifth victory in six 50-over contests following a humbling three-wicket defeat to Gloucestershire at Headingley in their second match.
Gale believes that setback – allied to a few days off afterwards in a rare break from a hectic schedule – provided the impetus for the resultant revival.
“Maybe that Gloucestershire game came at a good time and was a kick up the backside we needed,” he said. “That, and four days of total rest away from each other afterwards, was good as well and enabled us to recharge our batteries.
“There were some real heart-to-heart comments in the dressing room after that Gloucestershire game. Since then, I couldn’t have asked for any more”
Yorkshire (from): Bairstow, Bresnan, Brooks, Gale (capt), Fisher, Hodd, Leaning, Lees, Lyth, Patterson, Pyrah, Rashid, Williamson.