ONE of the main reasons Steve Patterson was handed the captaincy by Yorkshire on a permanent basis last month was down to his calm, level-headed approach to matters – both on and off the pitch.
The 35-year-old pace bowler, now approaching his 15th year as a professional at the club, hopes his style of leadership will rub off on his players as they strive to achieve a level of consistency he feels has been absent for large parts of the last two campaigns.
It was a tough baptism of fire for Patterson when, less than two months into the 2018 season, he had the captaincy role thrust on him after Gary Ballance stepped down due to health issues.
After stepping in for what was initially just a short spell to oversee the Royal London Cup group phase, Patterson was then asked to continue in the role until the end of the season across all three formats.
So impressive was he in the position, the Beverley-born veteran now finds himself with a whole season to plan for, something he will be working closely on alongside first-team coach and former captain Andrew Gale while the club continues its two-week pre-season tour in Potchefstroom, South Africa.
Chief among Patterson’s aims for 2019 – aside from the obvious silverware – is to achieve the kind of performance level that brought the club back-to-back County Championship Division One titles under former coach Jason Gillespie in 2014 and 2015.
I feel more confident going into this year as to what my role is and what my responsibilities are and I feel that will allow me to deliver it a bit better to the lads.Yorkshire captain Steve Patterson
Last year, Yorkshire blew hot and cold on a regular basis, a pattern of behaviour Patterson is keen to cut out this time around.
“For me, for what I would see as a real success is having more of that consistency,” said Patterson.
“For example, when we play well, we know we play well and we know we can beat anybody and we’ve shown that, even last year.
“But when we played poorly, we played really poorly and there was very little in between.
“So, as a team, if we can just be more consistent, as in when we do play poorly make sure it’s not as bad (as last year, at times) and when we play well, make sure that we don’t too carried away.”
Patterson believes the blend of youth and experience in the squad for 2019 is well-balanced and one which – with a degree of patience – has the potential to deliver more silverware a few years down the line.
“If we can get that consistency I feel has been lacking, then we’ll be taking steps in the right direction,” he added.
“Because every year these younger lads play, they are going to learn more and are going to become more accustomed to playing first-class cricket.
“Then, in two, maybe three years’ time, the likes of Matty Fisher, Ben Coad, Harry Brook, Will Fraine and Tom Kohler-Cadmore are going to be the ones that hopefully take it on and maybe do what we did four or five years ago when winning those Championships.”
Having got through what was a typically hectic and, at times, difficult summer intact, Patterson has had more time over the winter to focus on what kind of captain he wants to be.
He admits he struggled at times to adapt to his new, leading man role but, given time to look back over the five months he was in charge, he now has a clearer picture as to what he hopes to achieve once the season gets underway with a County Championship encounter at Nottinghamshire on Friday, April 5.
“Taking over during the summer you never really know where your authority lies and what the expectations are really,” added Patterson.
“It was a bit more about finding my feet. But having had the winter to really get my head around the captaincy and what I want that to be like, I’m a lot clearer as to where my position is in the team and in the dressing room.
“I feel more confident going into this year as to what my role is and what my responsibilities are and I feel that will allow me to deliver it a bit better to the lads.
“I’m an honest guy. I never hide stuff from anybody and if they ask me a question, I’ll tell them straight and they will hopefully respect that whether they agree with it or not. That is the only way I can be (as a captain) because once you start to say different things to different people to keep different people happy, it catches up with you very quickly.
“My goal is just to be honest with all of the lads individually.”