YORKSHIRE are taking a leaf out of the book of England’s World Cup winners by ripping up the script and starting again as they seek to win the T20 Blast for the first time.
The county start their 14-match group campaign against Nottinghamshire at Emerald Headingley tonight (6.30pm) determined to improve on one of the worst T20 records in the country.
Yorkshire have only twice reached Finals Day in a tournament that began in 2003 and have failed to qualify for the knockout stages in five of the last six seasons.
Now, in an attempt to put things right in a similar way to how England did after they were knocked out of the 2015 World Cup in ignominious style, Yorkshire are promising a new-look approach, one designed to throw tradition to the wind and to bring their T20 cricket bang up-to-date.
Captain Steve Patterson said: “That’s exactly how I see it (taking a leaf out of England’s book and their captain, Eoin Morgan).
The way he played in the World Cup, he showed that he’s got some real quality about him, and although he’s only here for a number of games, it’s at the start of the tournament, which I think is important.Yorkshire captain, Steve Patterson
“For me, coming in as Yorkshire captain last year halfway through the season, it was very difficult in terms of trying to put too much of a stamp on it and our T20 game.
“Now we’ve had a lot of time to prep for it, over the winter and so on, and I’ve always had the attitude that if you do what you’ve always done and you’re not getting anywhere, then you’ll always get the same result.
“In T20 cricket, we haven’t been good enough, it’s as simple as that, so we have to try something different, and that’s what our intentions are this year.
“If I’m honest, I think probably we’ve been a little bit traditional in the type of T20 cricket we’ve played, and the type of team we’ve picked in previous years.
“We’ve maybe looked at playing our best 11 cricketers no matter what form of the game, whereas this year we’re going to go more down the route of picking guys who are best suited to playing T20 and, hopefully, having a few fresh bodies and a bit of fresh energy will give us that impetus to go on and push to try and win it.
“I think the days of simply picking your 11 best players have gone a bit really, and you see a lot of teams bringing in T20 specialists who are fresh, brilliant in the field and all those kind of things, and I think we’ve probably been a little bit behind in that regard.
“T20 now is such a fast-paced game that you’ve got to adapt and move with the times, and that’s where we’re trying to get to at the moment.”
One example of Yorkshire’s fresh approach and their clear determination to win the T20 Blast is their recruitment of West Indies star Nicholas Pooran, who will debut tonight.
The 23-year-old batsman/wicketkeeper has signed for the first five games before he leaves due to international commitments, while off-spinner Dom Bess has been signed for the first 10 matches on loan from Somerset.
“I’d definitely say that someone like Nicholas Pooran is the sort of X-factor player that we want,” said Patterson.
“I think the way he played in the World Cup, he showed that he’s got some real quality about him, and although he’s only here for a number of games, it’s at the start of the tournament, which I think is important.
“If he can get a couple of scores and get some runs on the board for us and help us win a few of those games then we’ll set our stall out early doors.
“In addition to him and Dom Bess, we’ve got some lads who haven’t had an opportunity much recently (in the County Championship), who’ve spent a lot of time working on their skills and they’re raring to go.”
Patterson will be one of those who makes way for a fresh face or two following a hectic period of Championship action.
Yorkshire have played seven Championship games in the space of eight weeks, so Patterson will take a break for the first five T20 fixtures, with Tom Kohler-Cadmore leading the team.
“I will play a part in the tournament, just not initially,” said Patterson.
“I think it’s important to have a rest because, as a bowler, I’ve played more cricket than anybody else, but also because the lads that will be coming in, they’ve had time to work on their skills, they’ve been practising, and I haven’t had that opportunity because I’ve been playing Championship cricket for the past two or three months.
“I don’t think I’d be doing myself justice and probably wouldn’t be doing the team justice to start the tournament, so I’ll have a little period of time off, get a bit of rest and then have a chance to work on my skills so that when I come in hopefully I can play my part.
“Tom’s going to lead the team while I’m not playing, and I know he’ll do a really good job.”
After tonight’s match, Yorkshire take on Derbyshire at Chesterfield tomorrow and then travel to Leicestershire on Tuesday.
Then comes the Roses clash at Headingley on Thursday, followed by Pooran’s last appearance away to Northamptonshire on Sunday week.
Yorkshire (from): Ballance, Bess, Bresnan, Brook, Kohler-Cadmore (captain), Fisher, Lyth, Olivier, Pillans, Pooran, Poysden, Tattersall, Thompson, Willey.