Shan Masood aiming to cash in as Yorkshire CCC faces key double-header
Masood is frustrated that he has left runs out on the pitch in his first summer as Yorkshire captain.
In 21 innings in all formats, Masood has reached double figures 16 times.
On 11 occasions he has passed 30 but managed only three half-centuries - 67 and 95 not out in the County Championship victory against his former club Derbyshire at Chesterfield in June, and 54 in last Sunday’s One-Day Cup triumph against Essex at Chelmsford.
As Yorkshire go in search of the wins they need in their last two Cup group games against high-flying Leicestershire at Grace Road on Sunday, and against lowly Middlesex at Radlett on Tuesday, which may in itself not be enough to advance to the knockouts, Masood is determined to put things right.
“My form has been a bit iffy,” he admitted. “In this tournament, I got 31 against Kent and 54 against Essex, so two really good starts which I failed to sort of crack on with.
“When I went away for the Test series with Pakistan in Sri Lanka recently, I had a 39, a 51, so, for me, it’s been leaving my innings a bit uncooked, so I’d really like to carry on with the starts and get a few big ones.
“I feel good in terms of how I’m batting, the shot selection and stuff like that.”
Masood got another start in the last game against Hampshire at York on Thursday, scoring 18 before edging behind.
Yorkshire were 36-6 at the time, however, en route to the second-heaviest defeat in their one-day history by a runs margin (177) after the visitors made 311-6.
“Again, I thought I got in, but the situation of the match was such that when you’re five-down, six-down, you obviously don’t want to play a silly shot,” said Masood.
“Maybe if you’re two-down, three-down, you want to put the bowler under pressure more and it’s a different situation.
“I haven’t done myself justice in the last couple of games (Masood made 11 in the first match at York against Surrey on Tuesday).
“It’s just a case of working hard and trying to improve.”
Masood, 33, has plenty of personal motivation as Yorkshire seek to follow the proverbial “after the Lord Mayor’s show” performance with a strong finish to their 50-over group.
The Hampshire defeat came 48 hours after Masood’s men beat Surrey by one wicket in thrilling style to boost their hopes of a requisite top-three finish.
For not only is Masood keen for Yorkshire to go deep in the competition and also to finish the Championship strongly in September despite the points penalties that have ended their promotion hopes, he has also not given up hope of a World Cup place.
Masood learned just prior to last week’s trip to Chelmsford that he had been left out of Pakistan’s squad for the forthcoming Asia Cup and the Afghanistan series, which effectively doubles as a preliminary World Cup squad for the tournament that starts in India in October.
“You have to accept these decisions,” said Masood, who has played only nine one-day internationals despite averaging 53.94 in 110 List A games.
“Fifty-over cricket has been my best format domestically, and luckily we’re playing the same format (for Yorkshire) as the World Cup.
“Right now, the opportunity is there to score runs, win games for Yorkshire and then anything can happen between now and October.
“Squads can be altered (for the World Cup) until September 28, so the aim is just to score runs and keep knocking at the door.”
After their net run-rate took a pounding against Hampshire, the first tie-breaker should sides finish level on points, Yorkshire relinquished the third and final qualifying place in Group A to drop to sixth in the table.
They are now a point behind the new third-placed team, Nottinghamshire, whose one remaining fixture is against Lancashire at Sookholme on Tuesday, and level on points with fourth-placed Lancashire and fifth-placed Kent, who they trail on net run-rate.
Lancashire also face Middlesex at Lord’s on Sunday while Kent’s last two fixtures are against Essex at Canterbury on Sunday and against Hampshire at Newport, on the Isle of Wight, on Tuesday.
The two group winners go straight into the semi-finals and receive a home tie, while the second-placed sides play-off against the third-placed teams in the opposite group.
“We now have to win both games to try and get through, and my message to the boys after the Hampshire defeat would be - ‘it’s one bad game’,” said Masood.
“It was probably our first bad day in this tournament, and we just have to let it go and look forward to two games on the road which hopefully we can win.
“You can’t beat yourself up too much about those sort of performances.
"As philosophical as it might sound, it’s your greatest adversities that teach you your best lessons, and that was a very good lesson for us.”