Must win is simple message for Roses encounter

Yorkshire visit Lancashire on Friday night
Yorkshire visit Lancashire on Friday night
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IT is a measure of Jason Gillespie’s cricketing philosophy that he is disinclined to look at the various mathematical permutations that might see Yorkshire reach the knockout stages of the T20 Blast.

You will not hear him say, for example, that Yorkshire must win four of their last six group games, which is probably the minimum they need to achieve, or that three victories might do it at a push depending on results elsewhere.

Yorkshire Vikings' Aaron Finch in action during the Natwest T20 North Division match at Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Yorkshire Vikings' Aaron Finch in action during the Natwest T20 North Division match at Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Rather, as his side prepared to take on Lancashire at Old Trafford tonight (6.30 start) in the one of the showpiece county games of the season, Gillespie assessed the matter in straightforward terms.

“They’re all must-win games now,” said the first-team coach, “and that’s the way we need to look at it.”

Such simplicity is consistent with Gillespie’s style, which is not to over-complicate matters.

The former Australia fast bowler perhaps feels that to suggest that Yorkshire could theoretically qualify if they lose another couple of matches is not really the message he wants to be sending to his players.

The message that he is sending to them is that, regardless of Yorkshire’s disappointing record so far, which reads played eight, won three, lost four and tied one, they are by no means out of the running.

Only six points separate top from bottom in the North Group, and second-bottom Yorkshire would be very much back in it if they win tonight ahead of their final group games against Durham (H), Derbyshire (A), Worcestershire (H), Northamptonshire (A) and Warwickshire (H).

“The way I see it, the only way we’re going to make the quarter-finals is if we win games of cricket,” said Gillespie. “It’s a very simple equation.

“You can look at the maths and all that stuff, but the fact is we need to start winning matches.

“If we win enough matches, we’ll progress; if we don’t, we won’t progress. Simple.”

Yorkshire, who failed to qualify last year despite winning six fixtures, have yet to fire consistently.

There was a tantalising glimpse of what they can do when they beat Notts at Headingley on the back of outstanding innings from Glenn Maxwell and Andrew Hodd.

But they should have defeated Leicestershire last week, when they were held to a tie, and they urgently need to get back on track.

“I’m confident we can turn it around,” said Gillespie.

“The lads are working hard, they’re preparing well, and we’re certainly not out of the competition.

“At the same time, the bare facts are that we either bat very well and don’t bowl very well, or vice versa.

“When we have won, we’ve done both disciplines well, and it’s all about doing that consistently.”

Yorkshire at least take positive memories into tonight’s encounter.

At Old Trafford last year, they won a pulsating match by five wickets with three balls to spare on the back of an explosive 88 from Aaron Finch.

The Australian has yet to shine this summer, but no-one who saw him destroy Lancashire on that occasion can be in any doubt as to what he can do.

“It was a great game last year and Finchy was brilliant,” said Gillespie.

“He’s just finding his feet at the moment after a bit of an injury lay-off, but I know he’ll be fine.

“It’s going to be a packed house again and, hopefully, we can put on a show.

“We know Lancs are a great Twenty 20 side, and it’s always hard work, particularly at their place.”

Yorkshire could do with Finch and his fellow Australian Maxwell having a strong finish to the group phase, which might be all it needs to spark Yorkshire into life.

However, Gillespie believes the contribution of the two overseas players goes beyond mere runs and wickets. “You can’t underestimate their contributions,” he said.

“While they haven’t scored the runs they’d like, they’ve been unbelievable with the rest of the lads.

“The advice they’ve given in the dressing room and on the training track – that’s the stuff that people don’t see, but it’s the stuff that we certainly notice as support staff.

“Our lads are getting a lot and learning a lot from those guys.”

Yorkshire (from): Bairstow, Carver, Coad, Finch, Fisher, Gale (captain), Gibson, Hodd, Leaning, Maxwell, Middlebrook, Patterson, Pyrah, Rhodes.