Darren Gough keeping options open as Yorkshire weigh up overseas strength

DARREN GOUGH says that no decision has yet been made on whether Yorkshire will sign a second overseas player for the County Championship.

The county’s managing director of cricket said that the club is keeping its options open as it continues preparations for the forthcoming season.

Yorkshire’s overseas player in the four-day tournament is Shan Masood, the club captain, who is only likely to miss August at this stage when Pakistan host a two-Test series against Bangladesh.

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With the Championship campaign beginning with seven games in quick succession, placing a particular strain on pace bowlers, Gough said that could possibly be an area the club looks to strengthen if it does get someone to complement Masood.

Darren Gough. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comDarren Gough. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Darren Gough. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“We’re still in a position where we’ll have to wait and see whether we go down that route or not,” said Gough.

“We’ll see how our players are; they go on a pre-season tour (to Abu Dhabi) in a couple of weeks, so we’ll see where they’re at.

“Our options are open, 100 per cent. No decision has been made whatsoever on that.”

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Yorkshire will have to take their financial situation into account, one that led them to the brink of administration before the return as chair of Colin Graves. It is likely that Graves will make cuts across the board; equally, he has made no secret of his desire to put cricket front and centre as the club moves forward from recent events.

Shan Masood. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comShan Masood. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Shan Masood. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“The budget will obviously come into it,” said Gough. “Again, we’ll have to wait and see. Realistically, where we probably would need a bit of support, with the seven games back-to-back at the start of the season, is probably the bowling. That would be an area we’d probably look at.

“We’re short full-stop. There’s a lot of players left in the last couple of years, and we’ve cut our wage bill massively.

“If we’re honest, if we take out the England-contracted players, we’re probably a couple of players short, an experienced batter and an experienced bowler, but that’s down to the circumstances over the last few years and where we’ve been at generally.”

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Identifying targets is one thing, signing them another. Gough has spoken of the challenges Yorkshire have faced with so much uncertainty surrounding their situation.

“We tried to sign a couple but they wouldn’t come for various reasons, and we didn’t know about the points situation (how many Yorkshire would be deducted due to the racism crisis) until August,” he said.

“That points deduction came too late for us; we could have done with that coming at the start of the season, then players would have been comfortable coming to us knowing that last year was going to be the year that we got points deducted.

“But no one was going to come until they saw it on paper that we were getting the points last year and not this year, so that was always going to be an issue for us to attract players.

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“Let’s hope we get some consistency now and continuity and we can concentrate on playing cricket.”

Yorkshire hope to have Joe Root available for at least some of that opening block of seven Championship matches, and perhaps for some of the T20 Blast.

Other England players such as Jonny Bairstow and Harry Brook are scheduled to play at the Indian Premier League, but Root’s presence would be a clear boost as the club targets promotion back to Division One of the County Championship.

“Realistically, that will be down to England and him,” added Gough. “He won’t get back from India until mid-March. Our first game is April 5.

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“What do they normally have off after a tour? Four, five weeks? It would depend on how his body is, what England say in terms of how long he needs off because, remember, he hasn’t got any cricket then until July. The way I look at it, any game that Joe Root is available for is a bonus.”

Although Championship cricket is the immediate focus, with Yorkshire starting their campaign against Leicestershire at Headingley, Gough has an eye on the T20 Blast.

Last week, he signed Donovan Ferreira, the South Africa all-rounder, as an overseas player for that competition which starts at the end of May, one which Yorkshire have never won.

“We got in early with Donovan,” said Gough. “The T20 World Cup is going to have a massive knock-on effect for all teams trying to get the right players in, and I think a lot of counties are struggling to get good Blast cricketers.

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“I made the decision early on Donovan because he bats at five, which is an area we needed to strengthen, and then it’s just whether he bowls or keeps wicket as well.

“There’s no point signing a massive name, if you like, because they’ll all be at the World Cup, so it’s like a bun fight and you need to find those cricketers in the next best rung.”