Ottis Gibson urges Yorkshire to ‘be brave’ at T20 Finals Day

YORKSHIRE have been told to “throw the first punch” and to “play without fear” on the biggest day in the domestic calendar.

Head coach Ottis Gibson’s message could not be more simple as the players head to Edgbaston for T20 Finals Day.

Yorkshire face Lancashire in the first semi-final from 11am before Hampshire play Somerset from 2.30pm.

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The final starts at 6.45pm as Yorkshire strive to win the T20 tournament for the first time.

Yorkshire coach Ottis Gibson. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comYorkshire coach Ottis Gibson. Picture: Allan McKenzie/
Yorkshire coach Ottis Gibson. Picture: Allan McKenzie/

“My message to them will be ‘just go and play, be brave’,” said Gibson. “That’s been our mantra throughout the whole competition.

“No fear, just go and attack the game. Be skilful and be confident. Finals Day is not a place to be timid.

“You’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to be strong.

“We’re playing a very good team in Lancashire, so we can’t take five/six/seven overs to get going. We’ve got to be ready to go from the very first over, the very first ball.”

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As a former T20 winner with Leicestershire as a player, and a former World T20 winner with West Indies as a coach, Gibson knows what it takes to win on the big stage.

He also knows it is the players who are the ones who have to deliver.

“I’ve got some experiences that I can share, but at the end of the day the guys that go on the field have still got to go out there and be confident,” he said.

“When I look in their eyes beforehand, I want to see them looking straight back in my eyes and seeing that they’re ready for it and not timid.

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“We can’t stand off. We’ve got to be prepared to throw the first punch.

“The message is, ‘don’t get to Finals Day and then change your method.’ The guys still have to be brave and play the way that they’ve played to get to this point.

“Basically, it’s take off the shackles and play without fear. If we do that, we’re very confident we can put in a really good performance.”

Considering the turmoil of the winter months, and the disruption to the side in terms of personnel, Yorkshire have done well to reach Finals Day for just the third time.

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Once more they have been forced to chop-and-change with David Willey unavailable due to England commitments (the returning Harry Brook will captain in his absence) and Finn Allen away with New Zealand, which has prompted Yorkshire to bring back West Indies pace bowler Dominic Drakes.

England have released Brook from the ongoing one-day international series against India, along with Lancashire’s Phil Salt and Matt Parkinson.

But Yorkshire are without Willey, Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root due to the internationals, and Lancashire are missing Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone. Craig Overton is also absent for Somerset.

“What I really want is for the ECB not to have other matches around their main domestic tournaments,” said Gibson.

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“To have other matches, international matches, around Finals Day, where your best players get taken out, that’s just not to me fantastic planning really.

“But we’ve got Dawid Malan back, who’s been in good form lately, and Brooky is back with us too. We’ve still got an engine room that can get us to a good total and give us something to fight with.”

Brook, who led Yorkshire in three group games when Willey was on England duty in Holland last month, is relishing the chance to captain the team. “Dave is going to be a big miss, but with every miss comes an opportunity so hopefully one of the younger lads can step up,” said Brook, who has not featured in the ODI series.

“I am glad I have been allowed to leave the (England) set-up to come and play some cricket.

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“We’ve got a few players playing for England, but that’s what the big counties do - produce the best players. That is out of my control, who gets selected, and although we’d like them there, that’s not to be.”

Gibson concluded: “When I first met up with the guys on March 1, one of the big targets was to reach Finals Day. But, now that we’re there, we don’t just want to make up the numbers and have a party.

“We want to go there and win, that is our goal.

“Everyone is really looking forward to it and hopefully it will be a great day.”

Yorkshire (from): Bess, Brook (captain), Drakes, Fraine, Hill, Khan, Kohler-Cadmore, Loten, Luxton, Lyth, Malan, Revis, Tattersall, Thompson, Waite.

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