Now is the time for Yorkshire CCC to deliver again, believes Andrew Gale

MUCH of the talk at Yorkshire in recent years has been of transition, of building for the future and of assembling a squad good enough to win trophies again.

Set for first-class debut: Yorkshire's Jack Shutt. Picture: SWPix

First-team coach Andrew Gale believes that they are now in that position and has challenged his players to capture some silverware.

“I’ve made no qualms to the lads that we want to win the two trophies this year,” said Gale, who has high expectations of them in the Bob Willis Trophy and the T20 Blast.

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“We’ve talked a lot about transition over the last two years, and I feel that we’ve got to a stage now where we’ve got a squad that is ready to win trophies.

Yorkshire's Andrew Gale in training after the long lay off due to the Coronovirus pandemic. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“I know it’s a shortened season, but I really think we can build some momentum. I want us to compete and win trophies this year, definitely.”

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Yorkshire will be strongly fancied in the Bob Willis Trophy northern section as one of just two Championship First Division clubs along with newly promoted Lancashire.

The rest of the group features Second Division sides Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Durham, the latter today’s opponents in Yorkshire’s opening fixture at Chester-le-Street.

Dawid Malan bats is set to make his first-class debut for Yorkshire at Durham on Saturday. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

The competition sees the 18 first-class counties split into three regional groups of six, with each team playing five four-day matches and the two group winners with the most points contesting a five-day final, probably at Lord’s.

The Central Group contains Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, while the South Group comprises Essex, Kent, Hampshire, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex.

Gale is confident his side can progress but is warning that the Second Division sides cannot be treated lightly.

“I don’t want the lads to talk about the fact that we’re playing against Second Division teams because they’re still good teams in their own right,” he said.

Emerald Headingley, by Graeme Bandeira.

“I think we saw when we were in the Second Division ourselves that it was a tough division to get out of, and a lot of teams raised their game when they came and played at Headingley.

“Obviously the crowds might have had something to do with that, along with playing at a Test match ground on good wickets, too, but you can’t underestimate these sides; they’ve still got good players as they’ve often proved in the white-ball formats.

“You certainly can’t just turn up and expect to blow them over in three days; it doesn’t happen.”

Yorkshire are set to hand a first-class debut today to Jack Shutt, the 23-year-old Barnsley-born off-spinner.

Shutt has played seven T20 matches for the club and is returning to the Chester-le-Street ground where he produced a remarkable match-winning performance last summer, taking 5-11 after Durham had seemed to be on course for victory.

“It was always in our mind to play a spinner,” said Gale. “The way ‘Shutty’ has gone has been very encouraging. He’s improved a lot over the winter. He went to India for a month and he spins the ball big.”

Shutt is part of a 13-man squad that includes South African pace bowler Duanne Olivier, who has been a little bit behind the others in terms of training, having only recently returned from his native country, whereupon he had to go into quarantine due to the regulations around Covid-19.

It seems likely that two of Olivier, Matthew Waite and Jordan Thompson will be left out, while batsman Gary Ballance is unavailable as he recovers from a virus-type illness which Yorkshire say is not coronavirus (Ballance has had two negative tests for Covid-19).

Fellow batsman Dawid Malan will make his first-class debut for the club following his close-season move from Middlesex.

Durham have former Yorkshire batsman Alex Lees in their ranks and, as they showed in last week’s practice game at Headingley, are unlikely to be pushovers.

“They’ve got some good players,” added Gale.

“Leesy, Ben Raine, Rushy (Chris Rushworth) and so on are excellent performers.

“They might not have the strength in depth that some First Division clubs have got, but they’ve got some really strong, key performers.”

After their trip to the Riverside, Yorkshire face Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge starting a week today.

They complete their North Group campaign with successive fixtures at Headingley against Derbyshire (from August 15), Lancashire (from August 22) and Leicestershire (from September 6).

“It’s exciting,” said Gale. “I’m sure whoever wins the Trophy will take a lot of confidence from that into next season and into the full (County Championship) competition.

“Hopefully, it will be us and we can get to a Lord’s final and win down there; what a great feeling that would be.

“And from where we’ve come from as well, with it having looked as though we weren’t going to play any cricket this season, it would make it all the more sweet.”

Yorkshire (from): Brook, Coad, Fisher, Fraine, Kohler-Cadmore, Lyth, Malan, Olivier, Patterson (captain), Shutt, Tattersall, Thompson, Waite.

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