Shan Masood says Yorkshire CCC must bring “best cricket to the table” to reach T20 knockouts

IF there is a more frustrating team to watch in T20 cricket than Yorkshire then its name does not immediately spring to mind.

One minute they look as if they are world-beaters, begging the question why they have never won the competition; the next they look as if the world and his wife could beat them, answering that question in no uncertain terms.

To the appeal ‘will the real Yorkshire please stand up?’ one can only conclude that they have been doing, their form maddeningly inconsistent from one year to the next.

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This season has been no different – after winning three of their first four games, Yorkshire have lost five of their last six to leave them with work to do to reach the knockout stages.

Yorkshire captain Shan Masood. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comYorkshire captain Shan Masood. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Yorkshire captain Shan Masood. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“For us the equation now is simple,” said Shan Masood, the Yorkshire captain, whose team sit seventh in the North Group on eight points after four victories from 10 matches.

“We’ve got four games left, and we have to win all four of them.

“This is a tight group. Normally, in the Blast, it’s seven wins (needed to reach the knockouts). But, because of the tightness of the group, I don’t think 14 points is going to be enough.

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“It’s either 15 or 16 points this time. But we really need 16 points. We certainly can’t afford to lose another game.”

Masood in action in the T20 Blast. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comMasood in action in the T20 Blast. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Masood in action in the T20 Blast. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Next up are Durham at Headingley on Thursday, a side who occupy the fourth and final qualifying place.

Yorkshire then finish their group campaign with games against Lancashire at Old Trafford on Friday, Worcestershire at New Road on Sunday, and Nottinghamshire at Headingley on Friday week.

“We’re three points behind Durham, and if we can get a win on Thursday we can put ourselves back in contention for one of those knockout places,” added Masood.

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“We still have our destiny in our own hands, and that’s what you want.

“If we play four games of good cricket, we’ll find ourselves in the quarter-finals, it’s as simple as that.

“But we’ve made it tough for ourselves, and we have to bring our best cricket to the table.

“It’s always very important to play it one game at a time.

“For us, it’s about treating it and playing it as though it’s a knockout competition already.”

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Yorkshire have never cracked T20, despite their best efforts.

The struggle long pre-dates the arrival of Masood and the current coaching staff; it has been the case since the tournament began in 2003.

Their best performance came in 2012, when they reached the final but lost to Hampshire, a year in which they were admirably served by two overseas players at the start of their careers – the Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc, and the South African batsman David Miller.

Twice they have lost in the semis (to Durham in 2016 and to Lancashire in 2022), with last year’s results summing up their efforts – three defeats, followed by six wins, followed by three defeats, followed by two washouts: the embodiment of inconsistency.

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“I can only speak for last year,” said Masood. “I thought we got it right for a considerable amount of time.

“We had six wins in a row, and six wins in a row is a top, top effort.

"After that, we then lost heavily at Chesterfield and that kind of set us back.

“But that can happen – you can lose games after you have a demoralising loss like that.”

Yorkshire’s form this year has been similarly up and down.

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There were successful, facile chases at home to Worcestershire and Derbyshire, a solid victory at Northamptonshire and a tight match in their favour at home to Lancashire.

But there were heavy defeats at Leicestershire and Derbyshire, disappointing losses at Birmingham and at home to Leicestershire, and botched chases at Durham and at home to Birmingham.

For Masood, the frustration is compounded by the fact that Yorkshire have rarely been blown away.

“There were two games where we were shot aside – one at Leicester, and one at Chesterfield,” he said. “Conditions also played a huge role at times, but the other eight games – we could have won them all.

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“It’s frustrating, because there are so many games that we could have won.

“At the end of the day, at the end of each season, we will be judged on results, and it’s time now that this young side tries to get over the line and finish games off.

“It’s not about days like Chesterfield. Sometimes days like that happen. Sometimes oppositions will be miles ahead of you. But games where you’re in the driving seat – finish them off. Those games make you feel good and give you momentum.”

For Yorkshire, the challenge remains as it ever was – to put words into action.

They are just as likely to win their final four games as they are to lose them all.

In other words, anything can happen.

At least it keeps things interesting.

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