“We need a win pretty soon” says Yorkshire CCC head coach Ottis Gibson

WITH over a third of the County Championship season gone - and the halfway point reached within the next fortnight - Yorkshire are not exactly where they envisaged being when they went into the campaign as the bookmakers’ title favourites.
All eyes on a win. Yorkshire head coach Ottis Gibson. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comAll eyes on a win. Yorkshire head coach Ottis Gibson. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
All eyes on a win. Yorkshire head coach Ottis Gibson. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Five games. No wins. Third-bottom of Division Two.

Only Northamptonshire and Derbyshire sit below them - and Derbyshire had one match completely washed out.

Since the club fell in the winter of 2021-22, when the entire coaching and backroom staff were dismissed, Yorkshire have won four of 32 Championship games (discounting an abandonment at Bristol in April last year).

They have lost nine of those fixtures and drawn 19.

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It goes without saying that they need the three points, as it were, or cricket’s equivalent thereof, sooner rather than later.

It is not all doom and gloom, though; indeed, given the prevailing bad weather, Yorkshire are only 18 points behind leaders Sussex, who they face at Hove from Friday, in a division that has witnessed just five positive results in as many rounds.

There is time to turn things around, with head coach Ottis Gibson insisting they are performing well, albeit in need of some victories to show for it.

“We need a win pretty soon,” said Gibson. “When you’re playing sport, the best way to keep people motivated is winning.

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“We’re playing really well but we’re not winning, so a win would go a long way towards confirming that the things that we’re doing are the right things, the way that we’re playing is the right way, and the way that we’re going about our business is the right way.

"A win would definitely go a long way towards that.”

Yorkshire’s biggest problem - not a minor one, at that - has been taking 20 wickets regularly.

They have not been helped by some lifeless pitches, particularly at Headingley, and also by injuries, with Matty Fisher (ankle), Matt Milnes (back) and Mickey Edwards (foot) most recently affected.

Sussex have a strong pace attack led by Jayden Seales, the highly-rated West Indian, who has been in the wickets lately, including a five-fer in the last match against Glamorgan at Cardiff, which nonetheless brought Sussex’s first defeat of the season.

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Seales should provide a good test for Joe Root, who is set to play his last Championship game before the Test summer, with Harry Brook now unavailable due to England’s T20 World Cup build-up.

“Our biggest issue has been taking 20 wickets - not just at Headingley, but also away from home as well,” said Gibson. “We’ve not been able to do that but, at the same time, we can’t fault the effort and endeavour of the players.

“Sussex have got a great squad and it will be another good challenge. We’re looking forward to it, just as we look forward to every game, but hopefully this is the one where we get across the line and certainly everybody would be a lot happier for that.”

One thing all the players have been happier for is a few days off, with Yorkshire having sat out the last round of matches after beginning the season with five back-to-back games.

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That put a lot of strain on the bowlers, especially, with precious little time to rest and recharge.

“Every week, we’d been playing Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday,” said Gibson. “Tuesday then becomes a day off, or a rest and recovery day, whatever you want to call it, then Wednesday becomes a practice day because Thursday is a travel day.

“So, really, you’ve only got one day off, and yet you’re (England) trying to develop guys to bowl 90 miles an hour but you’re only giving them one day off, and then you wonder why everybody is bowling at 70 miles an hour, so that’s something for them to figure out.”

Asked how he would improve the schedule, Gibson would not be drawn.

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“I don’t do scheduling, that’s not my job,” he said. “I do practice. My job, as a coach, is preparation of players, so I prepare the players and then, hopefully, they go and play nicely and we win, but the scheduling is not my remit.”

Could it be better balanced, though, from a coach’s perspective?

“They could probably engage with the coaches more,” he said. “That would be a starting point.

“If they engaged with the coaches more and asked ‘what’s your experience on the ground?’, because we are on the ground, literally.

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"Maybe they speak to directors of cricket about it, but I’ve never been consulted on what the schedule should or shouldn’t look like.

"I’ve never had that conversation, so perhaps that’s a starting point.”

For now, Gibson’s sole focus is getting that first victory on the board.

After this week, Yorkshire travel to Northampton for the game that completes the first half of their Championship season, after which he wants to see at least a “1”, and preferably a “2”, in the all-important wins column.

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