What Yorkshire CCC must do to win the County Championship title

A LITTLE over two weeks ago, Yorkshire were eyeing the treble having been the only county to have qualified for the top division of the Championship and the knockout stages of the white ball tournaments.

Now they have only the Championship to play for as their campaign resumes against Hampshire in Southampton.

Defeat in the quarter-finals of the Royal London Cup against Essex at Chelmsford was no indignity for the White Rose club; the hosts had a strong side out and a young Yorkshire team deprived of star names to The Hundred and international cricket did well to get that far.

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One can be less charitable about Yorkshire’s failure to advance beyond the quarter-finals of the T20 Blast; big guns were back for the fixture against Sussex – played at the neutral venue of Chester-le-Street – but Yorkshire were slightly below par with the bat and then committed basic fielding errors as they failed to reach Finals Day once more (they have done so only twice in the tournament’s 18-year history).

Steve Patterson, the Yorkshire captain (Picture: YPN)

Although the lights have not yet gone out on their hopes of winning their first silverware since the 2015 Championship, it will not be easy. To do so, Yorkshire must overturn a 16.5-point deficit before the divisional stage has even begun, reflecting a points system that will surely be tweaked/scrapped if the new format is to be retained going forward, as seems probable in the short-term at least.

Put simply, as Yorkshire embark on the first of four back-to-back games after they were one of the six sides to qualify for the top division, thereby giving them a chance of winning the title denied to the other 12 counties, there is little margin for error and they will probably need at least three wins.

After this week’s match comes Somerset at Scarborough, Warwickshire at Emerald Headingley and Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. Factor in the unpredictable weather at this time of year, when play is more likely to be affected by rain and bad light, and the challenge is obvious.

Not that captain Steve Patterson is giving up the ghost, promising that his team will be giving it their all.

Yorkshire's Gary Ballance will lead the line (Picture: SWPix.com)

“From our perspective, we’re delighted that we’ve got a chance of being able to win the Championship, which is what we wanted at the start of the season,” said Patterson, who led his team to a second-placed finish in Conference Group Three with five victories from 10 games.

“We know that we’ll have to raise our game against the very top teams, but, if we play to the level that we’re capable of playing at, then we have got every 
chance.

“We haven’t played our best cricket in the Championship this year – we haven’t scored enough runs on a regular basis – but we’ve still found a way to win games.

“The bottom line is that we’ve given ourselves a chance (of winning the title) and that’s all we can ask for.”

Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale (Picture: SWPix.com)

Patterson is no great fan of the new points system.

For the record, the top division will start off like this, with Warwickshire on 21 points, Somerset 18.5, Lancashire 16.5, Hampshire 8.5, Nottinghamshire 5 and Yorkshire 4.5.

The points were carried through from the group stages and represent half of the total points accrued from the two matches against the team with which each side advanced.

Hence Yorkshire collected nine points from their two meetings with Lancashire, who topped Group Three, and who pocketed 33 points from those fixtures themselves.

Confused? There is nothing simple about cricket these days.

But perhaps the most salient statistic is this: Nottinghamshire topped Group One over Warwickshire, but because Warwickshire won both of their group games against Nottinghamshire, they will start the divisional stage 16 points above them.

A side can earn up to 24 points from a Championship match – 16 for the win, plus eight bonus points: five for batting and three for bowling.

Yorkshire have named a 16-man squad for this week’s game: Ballance, Bess, Brook, Coad, Duke, Fisher, Fraine, Hill, Kohler-Cadmore, Lyth, Olivier, Patterson (captain), Tattersall, Thompson, Waite, Willey.