RICH PYRAH has outlined the blueprint that Yorkshire must follow if they are to bring their Twenty20 cricket up to the standard of their County Championship game.
The Yorkshire coach has pinpointed two key areas the county champions must improve as they chase silverware in the shortest format.
Pyrah believes Yorkshire must work even harder on their T20 skills as opposed to relying on natural ability to make them successful.
He feels they must develop greater “match awareness” – the ability to read and react to match situations.
Pyrah’s comments come as Yorkshire seek to address one of the poorest T20 records in the country, with the club having only once reached Finals Day in the 12-year history of the tournament.
“I am very confident that we can improve our T20 form, and I just think we need to work harder on our skills and match awareness,” said Pyrah, who retired from playing in September to take up a full-time coaching role at Headingley.
“I think our match awareness is quite naive at times, if I’m perfectly honest, and that’s a big area that we’re going to try and push this winter.
“By match awareness, I mean when to take on risks and when not to, and when to bowl certain types of deliveries and things like that.
“If we can improve on those areas, I think you’ll see us start to kick on.”
Pyrah, 33, believes Yorkshire can close the gap between their four-day and one-day form.
He feels they can challenge in all three tournaments – the Championship, the 50-over Cup and the T20 Blast.
“We’ve got one of the biggest and strongest squads in the country, so there’s no reason why we can’t compete in all three,” he said.
“We’re very strong in the Championship, but we can also do well in the one-day stuff.
“For me, it’s all about pushing our young lads hard and upping their skill levels in T20.
“That will stand them in really good stead.”
Pyrah’s emphasis on improving skill levels and working with the players Yorkshire already possess is characteristic of a cricketer who always made the most of his talent.
Pyrah was not, perhaps, as naturally gifted as some who have sparkled in T20, but one would never have known it as he became one of county cricket’s best exponents of the 20-over format.
“Sometimes, I think we rely too much on natural ability to win a game,” said Pyrah, who was the first Englishman to take 100 T20 wickets.
“You only have to look at the likes of Gloucester last season when they won the one-day competition (the Royal London Cup).
“They’ve worked really hard on their skill levels and proved that you don’t have to be the most naturally talented team to win a tournament.
“It shows how you can compete through trying to improve and sheer hard work.”
When it comes to hard work and self-improvement, Pyrah is not asking the players to do anything that he himself is not doing.
On the contrary, he is attacking his coaching position with relish as he studies for the prestigious Level Four qualification, and he is about to further his T20 experience in the Australian Big Bash.
Pyrah is to spend two weeks with Yorkshire first-team coach Jason Gillespie, who is leading the Adelaide Strikers, before heading to Melbourne to spend another two weeks with the Renegades franchise and David Saker, the former England bowling coach.
Pyrah will then have a week with Melbourne’s four-day team, the Victoria Bushrangers.
“It’s going to be a great experience,” said Pyrah, who will link up with another familiar face at Adelaide in the form of Yorkshire and England leg-spinner Adil Rashid.
“The idea is to learn as much as possible over there and to hopefully put those learnings to good use when I come back to Yorkshire.
“It will be interesting working with other teams and getting a different perspective on how to go about things.
“Twenty20 was a big part of my game as a player, and I think I kind of know what the players want from the warm-ups and preparation for games, so hopefully I’ve got a bit of a head-start and that’s something I can use to my advantage.”
Pyrah flies out on Boxing Day in readiness for the third of Strikers’ eight group games away to Sydney Thunder at the Spotless Stadium.
Strikers kick off their campaign at home to Melbourne Stars on December 18 before travelling to defending champions Perth Scorchers on December 21.
“The compromise with the family was to be at home for Christmas Day and then fly out Boxing Day, because five weeks away from the family is quite a long time,” said Pyrah.
“I’ve got two young girls and it’s the first year they’re getting really excited about Christmas, so I’m really looking forward to spending some time with them.”