Birmingham Bears v Yorkshire Vikings T20 Blast: White Rose away form remains a concern

AT the start of the Twenty20 tournament, Paul Grayson, the Yorkshire batting coach, outlined the club’s desire to improve its away form.

Yorkshire's Mark Stoneman hits out against Northants. (Picture: SWPix.com)

“I think, as a group, the record suggests that we’re outstanding at Headingley, but we’ve got to be better away from home – places like Chesterfield, where we tend to lose every year,” he said.

“They can be the make-and-break whether you go through and qualify for Finals Day, or certainly get to quarter-finals, so we’ve got to be a little bit better away from home, a bit smarter, a bit more savvy how we’re going to go about things.

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“We know Headingley, we know the conditions. It’s a great pitch, and it does suit our style of play, but sometimes you’ve got to play a little bit different away from home, and play ugly and win matches, and that’s what we’ve got to learn to do.”

Paul Grayson: Has away-day concerns. Picture: SWPix

Those remarks hold just as true now as when Grayson uttered them; actually more so.

Yorkshire’s two defeats thus far have both come on the road, at Durham and Leicester, either side of a victory at Worcester in their only other away game to date.

In contrast, Yorkshire have won five out of five at Headingley en route to topping the North Group, and in some style too with some explosive performances along the way.

But the target of improving that away record feels even more pertinent, given that four of the last five group matches, starting with tonight’s game against Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston, are away, while Yorkshire would also have an away quarter-final as the quarters clash with the Headingley Test.

Should Yorkshire qualify by finishing in the top four in the North Group, as seems highly probable, and given that the semi-finals and final are at Edgbaston in September, it means that seven of Yorkshire’s last eight T20s would be away should they go the distance – the acid test of Grayson’s target.

Of course, as the keen-eyed will have noticed, there is no game at Chesterfield this time, “where we tend to lose every year”, as Grayson put it, for the planned contest against Derbyshire on July 18 -–Yorkshire’s final group match – has since been switched to Derby due to the Covid restrictions.

Yorkshire have a far better T20 record at Derby, where they have never lost (five wins and one no-result) than at Chesterfield, where they prevailed on their first four visits but have lost on their last four from 2015.

Yorkshire also visit Trent Bridge to play Nottinghamshire on Friday week, the away ground where they have lost more times (13) than any other, including on seven of the last eight trips. They face Lancashire at Old Trafford on July 17 – another unhappy hunting ground with 10 defeats and four wins.

Since they last qualified for the knockout stages in 2016, Yorkshire have won just under half of the 27 T20s played at Headingley (13 wins, nine defeats, four abandonments and one tie), whereas away from home they have won less than a third of the 25 fixtures in that period (seven wins, 13 defeats, four abandonments and one tie).

Since T20 began in 2003, Yorkshire have also lost away quarter-finals at Essex in 2006 and Sussex in 2007, winning the others at home to Worcestershire in 2012 and at Glamorgan in 2016.

They were kicked out of the competition at the quarter-final stage in 2008 when it emerged, moments before the scheduled game at Durham, that they had fielded an ineligible player, Azeem Rafiq, during the group stage.

Yorkshire squad v Birmingham (from): Ballance, Bess, Brook, Ferguson, Fisher, Hill, Leech, Lyth (capt), Poysden, Stoneman, Tattersall, Thompson, Waite.

Fixtures – North Group (6.30pm): Birmingham v Yorkshire; Northants v Durham.

South Group: Hampshire v Surrey (7pm).