Moxon maintains Sayers is just the ticket as Yorkshire opener

Joe Sayers hits out
Joe Sayers hits out
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JOE Sayers’s scores for Yorkshire this season read like a National Lottery line: 24, 43, 32, 45, 12, 8.

It is not so much a lucky dip as a luckless one for a man who is playing as a top-order batsman.

The bonus ball of a sizeable score has so far alluded the Yorkshire vice-captain.

He will hope his fortune changes in Bristol this week in the County Championship match against Gloucestershire starting today.

As can be seen from Sayers’s scores, he has several times made a promising start.

The 24 and 43 came in the opening game against Kent at Headingley.

The 32 and 45 were compiled in the subsequent match against Essex at Headingley.

Sayers managed 12 in the rain-ruined return away to Kent, and again batted only once during last week’s victory at home to Leicestershire, when he made eight.

But with Yorkshire about to embark on the second quarter of their Championship campaign, Sayers will know that lottery-type scores – 1-49 - are not enough for a man of his talent – let alone a proud vice-captain seeking to stamp his authority on the role.

“Being vice-captain doesn’t guarantee you a place in the team, but the way Joe played in pre-season, and the way he’s looked when he’s batted so far, gives us every reason to expect that a big score from him is just around the corner,” said Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket.

“Joe hasn’t looked terribly out of form or anything like that; he just needs to go on and get the big score he’s been threatening and to capitalise on getting to the 20s and 30s.

“I don’t think the conditions have helped because, at the moment, what with all the bad weather around, you’re never really in against the new ball.

“But, at the same time, Joe’s done a lot of the hard work by getting himself in and I think he’s looked quite good when he’s been out in the middle.”

Despite not making a sizeable score, Sayers has several times batted long periods.

His resilience and concentration are features of his game, although some believe he is overly cautious.

Moxon, however, is a firm admirer, and, as a former opening batsman himself, appreciates the challenges that go with the job. He believes Sayers possesses all the right attributes.

“I suppose some might think that Joe’s a blocker but that’s definitely not the case,” added Moxon.

“I think he’s a good, traditional opening batsman who works hard to create a solid foundation for the team; he lays the base for the stroke players lower down the order to go in and express themselves.

“Joe’s game is all about building a solid foundation during the first session, and, as the ball gets older and the bowlers get tired, then he can start expressing himself a bit more as well.

“His job is to blunt the new ball and then look to capitalise later in the day, and such are his powers of concentration that he’s one of those players who can bat long periods.”

Yorkshire will hope for plenty of crease-occupation from Sayers this week as they look to build on their win against Leicestershire at Scarborough.

Victory rocketed them up to third in the Second Division after they began the season with three straight draws.

“Obviously it’s still early days and the division is very tight at the moment, but we all know how important it was to get that first win on the board,” said Moxon. “You don’t want to find yourself cast adrift from the rest, and hopefully we can build this week on the Leicestershire result.

“We still haven’t hit top gear yet and there’s plenty left in the tank, without a doubt.

“We’ve got up to third by having played maybe 60-70 per cent, so, in a way, we can take encouragement from that.”

Remarkably, this will be Yorkshire’s first Championship game at Bristol since 1996.

On that occasion, Moxon and his colleagues were unable to prevent a 10-wicket defeat as West Indian fast bowler Courtney Walsh claimed nine wickets in the match.

In addition to Mitchell Starc, who has returned to Australia to sort out his visa, Yorkshire are without Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, who are on England Lions duty against the West Indies at Northampton from tomorrow. They are replaced in the squad by Adam Lyth and Gerard Brophy, both of whom are set to make their first appearance of the season.

Alex Gidman, the Gloucestershire captain, returns after missing last week’s Championship game against Derbyshire with a back problem, but David Payne (ankle) and James Fuller (arm) are unavailable for the hosts.

Graeme McCarter, who made his debut in the CB 40 victory over Middlesex on Monday, has been named in a squad of 13.

The young Irishman impressed by taking three wickets at Lord’s and is in contention for one of the seam bowling places along with Paul Muchall and David Wade.

Dan Housego is fit again after a shoulder injury but must wait for a recall.