Yorkshire CCC boss Darren Gough relishing Sussex test
Yorkshire head to Hove having lost their opening County Championship game against Leicestershire at Headingley and then seen their second fixture against Gloucestershire in Bristol abandoned without a ball bowled.
It has left the sense of a campaign yet to properly get going and Gough, the Yorkshire managing director of cricket, hopes it will spark into action on the south coast.
“I’m excited for this week,” said Gough. “I think it will be a great game. Sussex was a club I always enjoyed playing against, it’s a good ground down there and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I think they’re one of the better teams in our division; I think they’ll be strong alongside the likes of Durham and Worcester.
“You look at Sussex and they’ve got some very good players. Ollie Robinson (the England pace bowler) will be back for them. They’ve also got Cheteshwar Pujara, a very good player.
“They’ve got ambitions to be in Division One, just like us, and it’s going to be a test. But we’ve got a good side and I can’t fault the attitude and determination of our players, which has been excellent.”
Spirits are high despite the defeat to Leicestershire, who chased 389 after Yorkshire controlled three-quarters of the game.
The White Rose were denied the chance to get that defeat out of their system in Bristol, where heavy rain in the lead-up to the match caused great frustration for all concerned.
“It was hugely disappointing,” said Gough. “I knew that we wouldn’t bowl a ball on the Wednesday (the day before the match): I told the ECB, ‘we won’t bowl a ball.’
“It’s a first for me when every day has been called off at 9am. They had a lot of rain down there, which I totally understand, and the outfield was wet, but my concern was the pitch.
“It hasn’t been the ideal start to the season, one way or another, but now we’ve got to get back on the horse.”
Yorkshire were surprisingly unseated by Leicestershire, but the visitors played commendably well. It was the second-highest chase in their Championship history, and Gough paid tribute to Yorkshire’s opponents.
“I know we took some criticism, but you’ve also got to give Leicestershire credit,” he added.
“They’ve got some good players, they’ve got a good team spirit and they’ve got a coach who leads from the front; they did very well to knock off the runs.
“We knew it was going to be difficult for us on that pitch – it was the flattest pitch we’ve had at Headingley for years – and although I’m not saying that we should have bowled them out, a target of 389 should have been enough for us to be safe.
“We dropped a couple of catches, we were a little bit rusty with the ball, and Leicestershire achieved a groundbreaking victory, but, realistically throughout the year, if you set over 300 on the last innings, you should win more than you lose.”
Yorkshire’s attack could show changes to the line-up beaten that day, with Matty Fisher set to return following a broken hand suffered on England Lions duty and new signing Mickey Edwards eyeing a Championship debut.
Conditions will dictate how Yorkshire go, with the batting strengthened by short-term overseas signings Shai Hope (who makes his last appearance) and Saud Shakeel, who is set to debut.
Yorkshire are without pace bowler Matt Milnes, who made an encouraging debut against Leicestershire following his return from a back stress fracture, an area still causing him stiffness.
Jonny Tattersall is in the squad after a fractured finger but is not quite 100 per cent, with Hope again set to keep wicket.
Gough was pleased with Hope’s performance against Leicestershire; the 29-year-old was solid behind the stumps and top-scored with 83 in the second innings.
He is also looking forward to watching Shakeel, having utilised his contacts to hurry through a visa for the 27-year-old Pakistani, who averages 72 in his five Test appearances after making his debut against England in December.
“Saud is here for the next three games and he’s a top, top player,” said Gough. “He was going to play last week, but, with all the rain that’s been around, he’s been here 10 days and he hasn’t played yet.
“As for Shai, he’s been great. He played really well at Headingley and kept well too; we ended up lucky on that one because he wasn’t meant to keep, he was just meant to bat, but ‘Tatts’ unfortunately was struggling with his finger.”
Yorkshire (from): Bean, Bess, Coad, Edwards, Fisher, Hill, Hope, Lyth (captain), Malan, Revis, Shakeel, Tattersall, Thompson, Wharton.