ANDREW GALE believes Yorkshire have the match-winners to take down Essex and stay on track for their first Lord’s final for 16 years.
The Yorkshire first team coach takes his side to The Cloudfm County Ground in Chelmsford today for a quarter-final play-off under floodlights (2pm start).
Gale believes his team go into the knockout stages as “massive underdogs” due to the absence of several key players.
Yorkshire are without England internationals Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett and David Willey due to the one-day series against Australia, while overseas batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has returned home to play for India in the Test match against Afghanistan in Bangalore that was due to start this morning.
Essex are not nearly so affected but have been hit by the loss of captain Ryan ten Doeschate, who is suspended for their next two games after repeated disciplinary offences – the latest in his side’s County Championship win against Lancashire at Old Trafford earlier this week.
Ten Doeschate breached Level One of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s directives relating to “wilfully mistreating any part of a cricket ground, equipment or implements used in the match, and using language that is obscene, offensive or insulting”.
It’s always a hard place to go, Chelmsford, but they’re certainly not unbeatable, which we proved when we won there in the Championship a few weeks ago. If we play positive, smart cricket, then why not?”Andrew Gale
It took him to nine penalty points under the totting-up procedure and triggered an automatic suspension, meaning that he will also miss the semi-final against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl on Monday should Essex win today.
However, Yorkshire are confident that despite their superior handicaps, they can win through to face Hampshire themselves and then go all the way to the final at Lord’s on June 30, having last reached the one-day final when they beat Somerset in the old Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy in 2002.
Gale told The Yorkshire Post: “We’re massive underdogs and are going to be without several key players, but we’ve still got match-winners in our team.
“We’ve shown throughout the tournament that we’ve got people who can make big hundreds and people who are fearless with the ball, and we’ve got absolutely nothing to lose.
“We’ll go into it full of confidence after winning our last four group games, and hopefully we can put on a good show.
“Because we are underdogs, we can go out there and play with a lot of freedom and see where it takes us.”
Yorkshire’s match-winners include the likes of opening batsmen Adam Lyth and Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who have given their side excellent platforms.
Their stands in the group games were: 80, 80, 72, 153, 43, 12 and 14. Kohler-Cadmore is the country’s fourth-highest scorer in this year’s tournament with 451 runs at an average of 64, while Lyth has the 10th-best return of 401 runs at 66.
For Essex, Varun Chopra (491 runs at 70), Ravi Bopara (393 runs at 65) and Tom Westley (385 runs at 55) have had strong tournaments too, with Bopara (11) also his side’s joint-leading wicket-taker along with Neil Wagner.
“They’re a strong one-day outfit and have been for a number of years now,” said Gale.
“They’re good on their own patch and it’s going to be tough, but we’ve got some quality players in our side too.
“It’s always a hard place to go, Chelmsford, but they’re certainly not unbeatable, which we proved when we won there in the Championship a few weeks ago.
“If we play positive, smart cricket, then why not?”
With their depleted strength, Yorkshire have called-up batsmen Harry Brook and Jack Leaning, along with pace bowlers Ben Coad and Jack Brooks, plus young all-rounder Jordan Thompson.
Although Essex are the bookmakers’ favourites as head coach Anthony McGrath aims to put one over his former club, Yorkshire have a fresh, youthful look about them and confidence is high after recent results.
Jonathan Tattersall, the 23-year-old wicketkeeper, epitomised their zest as he led the side home in their must-win final group match against Northants last Thursday, scoring a first-team best 52 not out as Yorkshire won by four wickets with six balls to spare.
“We’ve had a few close wins in the tournament so far, and you almost get more out of the wins that are tight than those which are more comfortable,” said Gale.
“It has a way of giving you more confidence, especially to someone like ‘Tatt’, who hasn’t had an opportunity really that much in the competition with the bat.
“To knock them off in the way that we did was great for us. We showed a lot of character against Northants and that will help us going forward.”
Yorkshire will be hoping for a repeat of the 2015 meeting at Chelmsford at the same quarter-final stage. They won by 20 runs before losing to Gloucestershire in the semi-finals.
Yorkshire (from): Ballance, Bresnan, Brook, Brooks, Carver, Coad, Fisher, Kohler-Cadmore, Leaning, Lyth, Patterson (captain), Tattersall, Thompson.