JASON GILLESPIE insists there is no need for Yorkshire to press the T20 panic button.
Seen by many as strong contenders to win the cup, Yorkshire lost to champions Northants in their opening match of the NatWest T20 Blast last Friday.
First-team coach Gillespie is confident his side will grow in stature during a group phase extended this summer from 10 games to 14.
And the seriousness with which he and Yorkshire are taking the competition is highlighted by their scheduling of three practice games this week against local opposition.
Yorkshire were last night in action at Sheffield and they play at Harrogate today and York tomorrow.
Ideally, these matches – effectively warm-up fixtures – would have taken place before last Friday’s opening group match at Headingley.
But the schedule offered no chance with the club having only just finished a County Championship match.
Yorkshire’s next T20 Blast match is at Edgbaston on Friday against Birmingham Bears.
“There are certainly no panic stations,” said Gillespie. “It wasn’t the start we wanted; there’s no getting away from that.
“But there are plenty of games to go and the reality is we’re not going to win every game.
“I’m confident we’ll go out at Edgbaston with a positive attitude and play the best cricket we can.”
Yorkshire will be looking to give their big-name players some vital T20 game time when they come up against Harrogate CC and Yorkshire League Select XIs.
Gillespie is rotating his troops to ensure they get the best possible preparation for Friday’s match.
“Ideally, we’d have played these practice games before our first match proper, but we were well aware of the programme in advance, so there’s no excuses there,” he said.
“We had a really good training day on the Thursday before the Northants game and the lads were as best prepared as they could have been.
“We’re taking this competition very seriously – all three competitions are very important to us – and we see these practice games as a good chance to get our plans right, to really hammer those plans and be absolutely ruthless in everything we do.
“It’s good build-up to Friday’s game, and this week is about striking a balance between looking after some of the lads who’ve had a lot of cricket in a short space of time and getting other lads a bit more cricket under their belts.”
Although disappointed with the Northants result, with the visitors chasing 163 with one ball to spare, Gillespie was pleased with his team’s attitude.
There was undoubtedly room for improvement – not least in the batting, with Yorkshire slipping to 87-6 before recovering to post a competitive score – but what cheered the former Australia fast bowler was the way his side approached the contest.
“Although we lost, and were well shy of where we should have been with the bat, we took it down to the last over and there were a number of positives that we could take from the game,” he said.
“A number of lads got starts, and I was really pleased with the intent we showed with the bat. There was some very positive running between the wickets, and I really liked that aggression.
“The lads’ mindset was to be really positive, and that’s exactly what I want to see.
“At the end of the day, we’re not going to jump at shadows or second guess ourselves. I don’t want our lads playing cautious T20 cricket.
“I want us to play aggressive cricket and, if in doubt, to always take the positive option. I thought we did that really well.”
Victory at Edgbaston would not only get Yorkshire’s T20 campaign off the ground but represent the perfect boost ahead of the arrival of Australian batsman Aaron Finch.
The overseas star could well be in place for the subsequent NatWest T20 match, at home to Derbyshire on May 30, depending on the progress of his Indian Premier League team Sunrisers Hyderabad.
If Sunrisers qualify for the latter stages, Finch’s Yorkshire debut will be delayed until the trip to Lancashire on June 6. If not, he could arrive at Headingley as early as next Monday, giving him a few days to prepare for the Derbyshire game.
“It would be nice to have a win under our belts by the time Aaron gets here,” said Gillespie, who will not have pace bowler Moin Ashraf at his disposal for up to six weeks due to a hamstring injury.
“We feel that Aaron will complement our side very well and we’re looking forward to welcoming him into the Yorkshire dressing room.
“He’s a fantastic talent and someone who will bring an extra dimension to our game. We’re very excited about his arrival.”
An unbeaten 54 from Adam Lyth helped Yorkshire to a four-wicket win over a Yorkshire League XI at Sheffield last night.
Will Rhodes hit 39 and Alex Lees 37 as Yorkshire overhauled their opponents’ 184-5 with five balls to spare, Jonathan Trower top-scoring with 61 for the League XI and Simon Guy making 43 not out.
Yorkshire play Harrogate CC Select XI at St George’s Road today and a Yorkshire League Select XI at York’s Clifton Park tomorrow. Both games start at 5.30pm.