Coach Ottis Gibson's Twenty20 wishlist as Yorkshire's Blast ends in very damp squib

With no cricket to distract him, Yorkshire coach Ottis Gibson had plenty of thinking time at Old Trafford on Friday night.

Even before the White Rose's Twenty20 season was officially over for 2023, Gibson was turning his thoughts to getting better in 2024.

Part of it will be about recruitment, much of it squeezing more out of the squad he has already. More runs from the wicketkeeper and veteran Adam Lyth were high in his mind, as was death bowling and early wickets.

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Fittingly for this miserable season, Yorkshire's 20-over hopes ended without them actually playing.

PROVEN QUALITY: Dawid Malan passed 500 Twenty20 runs for Yorkshire this seasonPROVEN QUALITY: Dawid Malan passed 500 Twenty20 runs for Yorkshire this season
PROVEN QUALITY: Dawid Malan passed 500 Twenty20 runs for Yorkshire this season

After the roller-coaster of three opening defeats, a six-match winning streak, then three more reverses, the campaign ended with a very damp squib, matches at Durham and Lancashire abandoned to rain. It was the third time it had happened in Roses 20-over history.

On Friday, those who drove across the Pennines did not see a ball bowled, the covers never coming off, despite pleas from the stands before drizzle turned to heavy rain.

It leaves Yorkshire out of the top-four places in the north group, even with the other wannabe quarter-finalists not finishing until Sunday.

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Maybe it was for the best. Had they beaten Lancashire and gone on to win the competition for the first time, the trophy would more than likely have been snatched back by a points deduction for the racism charges the cricketing authorities have been dragging their feet so spectacularly over.

FIND: Leg-spinner Jafer Chohan impressed coach Ottis GibsonFIND: Leg-spinner Jafer Chohan impressed coach Ottis Gibson
FIND: Leg-spinner Jafer Chohan impressed coach Ottis Gibson

But that six-match run on the back of reaching last year's Finals Days will encourage Gibson to strive for next season's trophy.

“It's been frustrating,” was his assessment of the campaign. “At the start of the season when we sat down with the group and decided what our goals were for the season, this was a competition we spoke a lot about.

“The fact we got to Finals Day last season for the first time in a while (since 2016), had everybody optimistic we could do the same after the recruitment of Shan Masood, David Wiese, Benny Mike and some of the young guys we brought in.

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“We didn't start very well, the first three games we lost then we found our mojo in the middle and we had six unbelievable wins. At the back end we somehow lost our way again.

DISAPPOINTMENT: Opener Adam Lyth struggled to find his best Twenty20 formDISAPPOINTMENT: Opener Adam Lyth struggled to find his best Twenty20 form
DISAPPOINTMENT: Opener Adam Lyth struggled to find his best Twenty20 form

“For it to finish the way it has probably sums us up.

“But it has given us a lot of food for thought into what we need next year. The north group is tough to get out of so we have to be better.”

The obvious question was: How?

“Could we get more out of our wicketkeeping position in terms of batting?” asked the coach. “Tatts (Jonathan Tattersall) did well behind the stumps but when he's had opportunities with the bat he's not really made the most of them.

“And perhaps a finisher with the ball...

“When we've bowled (Matthew) Fisher up front he's looked threatening so do we go with an out-and-out strike bowler up front? Dom Bess played that role for us.

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“Closing out games is something we need to work on. We need to improve our death bowling.

“Adam Lyth didn't have his best year for us having been fantastic last year and that can happen. He's so good at getting us off to a flying start which allows Dawid Malan to play his normal game. He (Malan) might start slow but he catches up.”

Malan passed 500 runs in the competition to underline his status as one of the world's best in this format. But we knew that already.

“Jafer Chohan's been exciting,” said Gibson. “It (leg spin) is something we'd normally have from Adil Rashid and for me he's probably the find of the season for us in the Blast. I thought he bowled really well and after not bowling at Chesterfield he put the disappointment behind him.

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“I like the fact we were able to expose the likes of Will Luxton and James Wharton to the Blast this year. Wharton scored a fantastic hundred (against Worcestershire).

“Those are two guys we look at and think going forward they will feature more for us.

“Jordan Thompson is always a wicket-taker in this format (taking a career-best 20 wickets this year).

“Headingley is a high-scoring ground and eight runs an over is sort of the benchmark. Some of our seamers were a little bit above that.

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“Whilst we're disappointed there's still a lot of good things that give us a lot of optimism for the next season.”

Now, though, it will have to wait until next summer.

Yorkshire’s next game is at Worcester in the County Championship, starting a week on Monday. Tattersall will take over as captain with Pakistani captain Shan Masood heading to Sri Lanka for a two-match Test series.