Yorkshire captain Steve Patterson impressed by Haris Rauf - but says he has to rein him in for his own good

LADY LUCK has not exactly smiled on Yorkshire’s bowling department in the season’s early weeks but Steve Patterson could not be more proud of his players as they look to maintain their unbeaten start to the County Championship season.

Immediate impact: Yorkshire's new Pakistan pace bowler Haris Rauf. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Yorkshire take on Essex at Chelmsford from Thursday looking to build on a record of one win and two draws in their opening three games.

Only bad light denied Patterson’s men a second victory in their most recent match against Kent at Headingley (they were about to embark on a chase of 114 in 21 overs when conditions deteriorated) despite the latest injury to hit the camp.

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Haris Rauf, the Pakistan fast bowler who has shown a tremendous attitude and work ethic since signing for the club, and who captured 5-65 in the first innings of that game, was unable to bowl in the second due to what was described as “a slight niggle in his left side”.

Reliable: Yorkshire captain Steve Patterson has taken 12 wickets this season - two fewer than Rauf. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWPix.com

Rauf will miss this week’s fixture but, given a fair wind and a scan that showed “nothing too serious”, he could be back for next week’s Roses encounter at Headingley.

It followed the loss of Matty Fisher (back) to a stress reaction in the opening match against Gloucestershire at Bristol, an injury that could keep him out for around a month, and the non-availability up to now of new-ball partner Ben Coad due to a groin injury, although Coad will be assessed prior to the contest in Chelmsford.

Any side would struggle without their three main strike weapons and yet Yorkshire, blessed with a talented support cast and a captain, in Patterson, who is still going strong in his 39th year, have started the season well overall.

Now they could do with a little more assistance from the aforementioned Ms Luck, that capricious creature who is certainly not on Mr Fisher’s Christmas card list, given his myriad misfortunes over the years, as they look to build on their efforts under Patterson and head coach Ottis Gibson, which have certainly been encouraging.

Unlucky: Yorkshire's England bowler Matty Fisher was injured in the county's opening match. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

“We’re pretty limited in what we’ve got available bowling-wise at the moment,” said Patterson, who has started the season impressively himself with 12 wickets in three games at an average of 18 and an economy rate of less than two runs per over.

“We’ve had some poor fortune at the start of the season, losing Matty Fisher in that first game. Coady has been unavailable up to this stage and then to lose your overseas in the third game as well is pretty heartbreaking really, so it’s just a case of the lads who are fit recovering the best they can and getting ready to go again.

“Obviously Dave (Willey) is away in the IPL too, so I’m really proud of the lads and the way that they’ve fought.”

None more so than Rauf, perhaps, the 28-year-old who had played only four first-class games prior to signing for the club having made his name in the white-ball formats.

Rauf is two ahead of Patterson at the top of Yorkshire’s fledgling wicket-taking chart with 14 at 26 and has shown great hunger and desire to run in for the team.

“He’s a talent, a fantastic cricketer,” said Patterson. “All I’ve tried to get across to him is that four-day cricket is hard work and you’ve got to pace yourself a little bit. That first morning at Bristol, he wanted to bowl and you couldn’t get the ball out of his hand. I was trying to explain to him that we’ve got three-and-a-half more days of this and he’s come from playing very little red-ball cricket.”

Rauf has bowled 101 overs in three-and-a-half games, a significant increase on what he is used to, and he stood up well to the challenge prior to his niggle.

With his blistering pace on what have been some pretty flat pitches so far, the temptation to throw him the ball has been understandable for the Yorkshire skipper.

“I guess it’s always hard when you’ve got somebody with the ability to change the game like he can… you want to bowl him all the time,” said Patterson. “I’ve tried my best, where possible, to bowl him short spells and take him off when not much is happening to try and give him a chance to recover, but it’s just been very difficult.

“As I say, losing Matthew in the first game, Haris had to bowl more in the second innings of that match and then at Northampton he was our biggest threat in the game and he bowled quite a few overs second innings to try and help us win, which he wanted to do.

“I feel like it perhaps caught up with him a little bit really in the first innings (against Kent), but hopefully he’s not too seriously injured and we’ll have him back sooner rather than later.”

Gibson said: “I’m very pleased with him. He’s been growing nicely, and it’s obviously very disappointing that he’s picked up this injury. He’s had a scan and early suggestions are that it’s not too bad, so maybe with a week’s rest and some treatment from the medical team, maybe we’ll get him back for next week.

“He’s been a champion for us.”