Yorkshire CCC: Ambitious George Hill happy to open up again for White Rose

GEORGE HILL has revealed that he likes to open the batting as it stops him over-thinking his game.

The Yorkshire youngster, fresh from a successful first full season, admitted that he can think about things too much when batting further down the line-up.

Every batsman, from grassroots to Test level, can relate to the man who is padded up waiting to bat, analysing how things might unfold in a manner that can be more harmful than helpful before he crosses the white line to start his innings.

Hill, who turns 21 in January, is the embodiment of the stereotype and, although he has spent much of his young career batting at or around No 4, he is more than happy to continue in the opening role if needed, a role that was thrust upon him midway through the Championship season due to injuries and unavailability.

UP AND COMING: Yorkshire's George Hill in action against Glamorgan at Headingley earlier this season. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“I’m very happy to open and I think it’s worked because I’m a bit of an over-thinker when I’m waiting to bat, waiting there in my pads and over-thinking it,” said Hill.

“It’s nice (opening) because you’re almost out on the pitch straight away; you can’t over-think it because you’re straight out there to face the ball.

“So that’s been an enjoyable aspect of it and, hopefully, I can do it again next year if needed. But, as long as I’m playing, and playing well, I don’t mind where I bat.”

Hill played the last six Championship matches and opened each time, apart from in the rain-ruined Roses game at Headingley when Lancashire totalled 411-2 in the only play possible.

George Hill is keen to improve his bowling, making himself a genuine all-rounder for Yorkshire CCC. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

His first innings in the role produced a score of 71 against Northants at Wantage Road out of 158 all-out, and he also hit 55 against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl, reaching at least 30 in four of his nine innings.

Hill played one Championship match earlier in the season, the Roses fixture at Old Trafford, batting at No 5 and No 6 having made his maiden first-class appearances in last year’s Bob Willis Trophy, batting at No 8 in the games against Derbyshire and Lancashire at Headingley.

Prior to his elevation to opening, he had mostly batted at No 4 this summer for the seconds, scoring a career-best 207 from that position against Gloucestershire at Bristol.

A former pupil at Sedbergh School, Hill, born in Keighley, is an intelligent character with an engaging line in self-deprecation. He recalls how he started out, in age-group cricket, as “a bowler who used to bat 12”, and he is keen to develop the seam bowling skills which are an extremely useful part of his game, as he showed this year.

In the Royal London Cup, for example, in which he was ever-present and batted at No 4 or No 5, Hill was not only Yorkshire’s second-highest run-scorer but also their second-highest wicket-taker, averaging 37 with the bat and 24 with the ball.

In addition to scoring an unbeaten 90 against Leicestershire at Grace Road, and 64 against Warwickshire at York, he took three wickets in that Warwickshire game and followed up with three-wicket hauls against Glamorgan at Cardiff and Essex at Chelmsford. His efforts in Cardiff sent a hitherto cruising Glamorgan into freefall as they slipped from 180-1 in the 42nd over chasing 231 to win, limping to 226-8 at the end of the 50.

“I’m happy with the way the bowling is going,” added Hill. “When I was 17/18, in the twos, I never bowled because we had so many bowlers and I just played as a batter.

“I do enjoy my bowling, though. I joke about it but I do want to take it very seriously and hopefully one day become 50-50 with it (in relation to batting).

“I will work on it more this winter, and I’m just trying to keep things really simple. I’m not the quickest bowler so my main thing is consistency, and I also want to work on my alignment.”

Hill has thoroughly enjoyed the first-team atmosphere.

“It was my first full season as a pro and it was really good fun, and the team environment is great,” he said. “When I came in I was welcomed straight away. Everybody is so nice. There’s no like big dog alpha kind of mentality. Everybody is sort of even, and you can go for a beer with anybody you want, go for a chat. It’s a big thing to be able to go into a changing room and be made to feel welcome and that you belong.”