Lancashire v Yorkshire CCC – Vikings battling to avoid suffering early T20 knockout blow

Yorkshire Vikings' need to turn their T20 Blast campaign around quickly, starting tonight at Old Trafford. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/SWpix.com
Yorkshire Vikings' need to turn their T20 Blast campaign around quickly, starting tonight at Old Trafford. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/SWpix.com
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MARTYN MOXON has spelled out the extent of the challenge facing Yorkshire if they are to reach the knockout stages of the T20 Blast, insisting that they probably need to win at least six of their remaining seven group games to qualify.

The county’s director of cricket believes that there is almost no margin for error as Yorkshire tonight begin the second half of their 20-over campaign against fierce rivals Lancashire at sold-out Old Trafford.

Yorkshire are seventh in the nine-county North Group having won only one of their first seven matches as they seek one of the top-four qualifying positions.

They have suffered three defeats and two no-results, while in their last outing at home to Birmingham Bears on Sunday they failed to win despite needing 47 off the last 40 balls with nine wickets in hand and were forced instead to settle for a tie.

Yorkshire are still only one victory (two points) outside the top-four but Moxon said: “Depending on the weather and other results, we probably need to win at least six of the seven games that we’ve got left. Normally around 17 points is enough to qualify, which is still six wins away from where we’re at at the moment.

“It’s a tough challenge, but T20 is a momentum game and, if we can just get on a bit of a roll, there’s no reason why we can’t do it. It’s just a case of getting that momentum.”

Negative momentum, so to speak, was evident in Yorkshire’s display on Sunday, when they tied a match that they should have won nine times out of 10.

Now they face a Lancashire team who lead the group having won all five of their completed fixtures (they have also suffered two no-results), plus the last three T20 Roses meetings.

“It felt like a defeat on Sunday and it was frustrating, but we have to look forward now and try to put a complete performance together,” said Moxon.

“We haven’t really done that yet – apart, perhaps, from when we won at Leicester – and if you lose a couple of games in quick succession then you don’t play with the confidence that you need to play with.

TOUGH TIMES: Yorkshire's Matt Pillans shows his frustration during the T20 Blast defeat to Lancashire at Headingley. The Roses rivals meet again at Old Trafford tonight. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

TOUGH TIMES: Yorkshire's Matt Pillans shows his frustration during the T20 Blast defeat to Lancashire at Headingley. The Roses rivals meet again at Old Trafford tonight. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“Once you feel a bit under pressure, or there’s a bit of doubt there, it’s much more difficult to get over the line, particularly in close games. On the other hand, when you’ve won a few games you just expect to win and you’ve got that little bit more freedom and confidence.”

Scrambled thinking and poor decision-making has cost Yorkshire thus far, rendering displays such as their brilliant victory at Leicester – when their 255-2 was the ninth-highest T20 total in the world – so frustrating for them in the wider context.

Yorkshire actually hold the two-highest T20 totals achieved in England, having scored 
260-4 at home to Northamptonshire two years ago, yet they have never won the cup and have failed to qualify for the knockouts in five of the last six seasons.

“We’re still making errors of judgment at crucial times,” admitted Moxon. “We talked about this in the 50-over campaign earlier in the season, when we narrowly lost or tied matches as a result.

We’re still making errors of judgment at crucial times. We talked about this in the 50-over campaign earlier in the season, when we narrowly lost or tied matches as a result.

Yorkshire CCC’s Martyn Moxon

“It’s just those crucial moments where we’re not managing the game as well as we should, and they’re the ones that cost you.

“So we’ve been talking a lot about that and the importance of making sure that we’re communicating between each other, etc, etc, to try and make sure we make the best decisions at any given time.”

Keshav Maharaj, the 29-year-old left-arm spinner, has been named in a 14-man squad after rejoining the club as an overseas player until mid-September.

Maharaj took 20 wickets and scored 193 runs in Yorkshire’s last three County Championship matches and is available for the rest of the T20 group campaign, plus any quarter-final, along with the next two Championship fixtures.

Although Yorkshire’s white-ball form this year has been nothing to write home about, or even write in The Yorkshire Post about, they still have an outside chance of winning the Championship, lying third in the table, 38 points behind leaders Essex.

Yorkshire will decide whether to re-sign Nicholas Pooran, the West Indies batsman/wicketkeeper, for the rest of the T20 group campaign following Sunday’s match at home to Derbyshire. Pooran played in the first five games before returning for West Indies’ ongoing one-day series with India.

BIG HIT: West Indies' batsman Nicolas Pooran may be called back to Yorkshire Vikings next week.' Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

BIG HIT: West Indies' batsman Nicolas Pooran may be called back to Yorkshire Vikings next week.' Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

“Nicholas is keen to come back, and we’re going to make a decision on that on Sunday after our next two games,” said Moxon. “If we’ve still got a chance of qualifying then he’ll fly straight after West Indies last ODI on Wednesday and be available for the game at home to Durham next Friday.

“It was great to have him for the first five games; it was just a shame that two of those matches were rained out.”

Yorkshire have dropped Harry Brook for tonight’s match while fellow batsman Gary Ballance (hamstring) is rated doubtful.

Yorkshire (from): Ballance, Bess, Bresnan, Fraine, Kohler-Cadmore (captain), Leaning, Lyth, Maharaj, Olivier, Pillans, Shutt, Tattersall, Thompson, Willey.

Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com