JASON GILLESPIE is challenging his batsmen to get greedy as Yorkshire embark on the second half of their Championship campaign.
The first team coach wants them to be more ruthless and focus on making sizeable scores.
Yorkshire have had three innings of 150-plus in their eight Championship matches to date – two by Jonny Bairstow and one by Joe Root, both of whom are usually away with England.
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Adam Lyth (2), Alex Lees, Liam Plunkett and Gary Ballance have also hit hundreds, but there have been 21 scores between 40 and 80, highlighting a trend of batsmen getting in but not going on to play match-winning innings.
“I think we just need to be greedy as a team,” said Gillespie, whose side take on Surrey at the Oval from today.
“When lads get in, they need to get a score and make it a big one.
“We talk about ‘daddy hundreds’ – not just baby ones. The message is – ‘go and get a big one and be really ruthless’.
“If the opposition are going to get you out, make them really earn it.”
Gillespie was less than enamoured with Yorkshire’s second innings batting display in their last match against Middlesex at Scarborough.
Yorkshire were bowled out for 167 to lose by an innings and four runs in only their fifth Championship defeat in 72 games under his leadership.
“I thought our first innings batting was pretty good and we scored just over 400 against some very good bowling,” he said.
“Gary Ballance scored a good hundred and there were a number of decent contributions.
“We just didn’t get it right in the second innings, and there are no excuses from our point of view.
“As a team, the simple fact is we have to bat better.”
A quick glance at the averages supports Gillespie’s assertion.
Kane Williamson is averaging 10, Andrew Gale 17, Jack Leaning 23, Adam Lyth 28, Gary Ballance 33 and Alex Lees 37.
There is no Ballance this week as he is – all being well – on Test duty, and if you take out Bairstow and Root, the players who top the Yorkshire batting averages are Tim Bresnan (58), Liam Plunkett (47) and Adil Rashid (40).
Gale is particularly keen to improve his statistics, having yet to reach fifty in 15 innings.
The captain prides himself on leading from the front and has bounced back before from difficult spells.
Gale played a huge part in Yorkshire’s title triumph last year as one of only two players to pass 1,000 runs along with Bairstow.
Gillespie is confident that he will show his class and character in the season’s second half.
“Galey’s work ethic has been unbelievable and he’s been working really hard in the nets,” said Gillespie.
“I don’t necessarily think he’s out of nick; he just hasn’t scored the runs he would like.
“If he can just get some time in the middle and put a few balls away, he’ll be away. I’m sure a big score for him is just around the corner.”
It is not just Gale, however, who is targeting improvements.
Gillespie acknowledges that the team need to improve collectively, with Yorkshire finding themselves in the unfamiliar position of being fifth in the table – albeit still only 15 points off the top with a match in hand on the leading three sides.
“We’re well-placed, but have we been playing at our very best? If we’re completely honest, we’d have to say no,” he added.
“We’ve had a couple of opportunities this summer that we haven’t grasped – Hampshire, Notts and Durham spring to mind – and, in the important moments, the opposition were a bit better than us.
“The key for us is learning from those situations and being better next time.
“But I’m really confident and I see a real determination within the lads.”
Gillespie said Yorkshire have moved on from defeat at Scarborough. They will hope now to get it completely out of their system against one of the favourites for relegation.
“We basically had a mid-season review in the dressing room after the Middlesex game and the bottom line is that we’re still well in the mix,” he said.
“We’re well-placed, we’ve played half a season and lost one game, and we’ve managed to win a couple along the way.
“This week provides us with another good test and Surrey have got a number of match-winners and players in nick.
“We have to respect that, but we’re confident of giving a good account of ourselves.”