THE County Championship season starts next Friday and I do expect Yorkshire to deliver a big improvement this year – I certainly think that they will be safe from relegation.
It is an important year for Andrew Gale (first-team coach) but I kind of agree with Martyn Moxon (director of cricket) in that he gets unnecessary stick.
It is a rebuilding stage for Yorkshire and similar to when I went back as captain, my job was to rebuild and give young players a chance. Loads got a chance.
It is exactly the same now and I think we are going to get a lot of young players given the opportunity to impress.
It does not look like Yorkshire will sign an overseas player and that is an interesting move in backing their youngsters, which I admire. They have gone for the Kolpak option and it will be a big test for the young players but it is time for them to stand up now.
Looking at Gale, he has had a couple of years in the role now and this year and next Yorkshire should, hopefully, start delivering.
Division One will be really strong and the early-season pitches in the first few games might just suit the teams with the best bowling attacks and they might just dominate.
Yorkshire’s bowling line-up is pretty strong and we play at Nottingham and Southampton in two massive games to start.
Looking at Notts, if they do not get into the top three, then they will have massively under-achieved with the money they have spent. They are the ‘Manchester City’ of county cricket in trying to get a team who have got everything.
Surrey are still the team to beat again. You only have to look at them in the recent game with the MCC in Dubai where they scored 500-odd – and this was with their second team, in effect. That is what they did many times last season; bowl the opposition out and then get 500 and then bowl them out again.
It does not look like Yorkshire will sign an overseas player and that is an interesting move in backing their youngsters, which I admire. They have gone for the Kolpak option and it will be a big test for the young players but it is time for them to stand up now.Darren Gough
As regards Hampshire, it will be interesting if they keep their guys fit. If they do, they might just deliver as well.
I have been obviously critical of Durham’s decision to appoint Cameron Bancroft as captain for the County Championship season and questioned their director of cricket, Marcus North, after giving him the right to reply on radio.
I stand by my comments about Bancroft – who recently returned from a nine-month ban from cricket for his role in the Australian ball-tampering scandal – being named as captain as, for me, it is hugely disappointing.
I have nothing against him playing county cricket as everyone deserves a second chance. But there was no need to give him the captaincy as it sends out the wrong message to youngsters.
It is a time now where plenty of sensitive things are happening in sport. Look at the under-arm serves from Nick Kyrgios and the Ravi Ashwin situation. Now, Durham have given Bancroft a captaincy which is undeserved.
Bancroft is a guy who has never captained except for two games for Australia Under-19s in 2011.
North basically said that the decision was basically down to him knowing him as a kid and playing in the same team as him – and that he thought he had the right credentials.
His reasoning was that there was no-one else to do it. Alex Lees turned down the role as he wants to establish himself after just moving from Yorkshire. However, he is captaining for the first game as Bancroft is missing, which makes it even more silly.
You could have a situation where Bancroft plays for Australia A and then Australia and misses much of the season anyway.
It is Chris Rushworth’s benefit year and I have a feeling he may have wanted to be captain. They seem to have just bypassed him.
My other rant is that I asked North if they must be laughing at us back in Australia for helping the Australians get used to the conditions for the Ashes and he basically admitted ‘yes’.
They also have James Pattinson at Notts, Matt Renshaw at Kent, Peter Siddle at Essex, Shaun Marsh at Glamorgan, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns playing for Lancashire – and there will still be room for Steve Smith and David Warner down the line.
Obviously, there has also been the hugely controversial ‘Mankad’ dismissal of Jos Buttler by Ashwin in the IPL and that really bothered me as well.
Yes, we have all thought about doing it, but as a bowler, you would always warn the batsman. You do that and it’s in their court.
Many ex-cricketers have come up and said this week that those who do it play within the laws of the game and that the batsman should be watching the bowler. But, for me, Ashwin was intentionally going to run out non-striker Buttler, no matter what the delivery.
I would get it if Buttler was running down the pitch as he has done in games before and he had been warned. But he was only half-a-yard out of his crease after Ashwin should have delivered.
To use the ‘laws of the game’ argument was a pathetic excuse. Ashwin is captain of his franchise and I would rather lose a game than do that.
If Sam Curran had done that to Virat Kohli or MS Dhoni, he would have never been picked for a franchise team again in India. There would have been riots.