Yorkshire CCC make contingency plans while hoping that Shan Masood can kickstart season

YORKSHIRE are finally preparing to welcome club captain Shan Masood into their starting XI after he missed almost the opening third of the County Championship season - while at the same time trying to find overseas back-up should he need to leave again in a few weeks.

Signed last August on a two-year deal, Masood has missed the first four matches due to Pakistan commitments as Yorkshire have slipped to third-bottom of Division Two.

The 33-year-old is due to debut in Thursday’s game against Durham in Chester-le-Street but his presence may only be fleeting.

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Ottis Gibson, the Yorkshire head coach, said: “It’s very difficult to say how long he’s around for. I know Pakistan have some cricket at the back end of June, or July, so we obviously have to sit tight and see if he’s selected.

Yorkshire captain Shan Masood. Photo by Farooq Naeem AFP via Getty Images.Yorkshire captain Shan Masood. Photo by Farooq Naeem AFP via Getty Images.
Yorkshire captain Shan Masood. Photo by Farooq Naeem AFP via Getty Images.

“Goughy (director of cricket Darren Gough) is working tirelessly to find overseas back-up if he should need to go off. It’s becoming increasingly hard to find quality overseas.

" We don’t know if he’s going to get picked, so you can’t go and sign someone until you know what’s going to happen and often it’s a last-minute situation.”

Yorkshire are hoping that Masood will give them a lift as they target their first win for 13 months against the current leaders.

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Jonny Bairstow plays his last Championship match before the international campaign at a venue where he scored 219 not out on his last four-day outing in 2015, while short-term overseas signing Saud Shakeel makes his final appearance. Ben Coad is out with a groin injury.

“It’s a big boost to have Shan,” said Gibson. “Hopefully he will come in with fresh energy and give us a boost and help us go that one step further.

“We’ve messaged quite a lot while he’s been with Pakistan, and he’s been keeping up-to-date with what’s been going on. We’ve been talking a lot about stuff, him and I, bouncing ideas around.”

Commenting on Masood’s modus operandi, Gibson said: “When I’ve spoken to him about captaincy, he’s quite open-minded. He wants the bowlers to manage their own situations, set their own fields, and in a sense be their own captain - you know, ‘you set your field first, and if you don’t bowl to it then maybe I’ll come in and make a decision.’

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“He wants the bowlers to be involved in the fields they set and the way that they bowl. He’s not an authoritarian-style captain, that’s not his character.”

Yorkshire hope Bairstow and Shakeel can sign off in style, with Bairstow scoring 20 not out and 0 on his return from injury last week and with Shakeel’s returns reading: 3, 6, 19 and 35.

“It’s been difficult for Saud,” said Gibson. “Playing in England at this time of year with the ball nipping around on a green seamer, it’s not easy for anybody, but you can see that he’s got a touch of class about him. Hopefully he can sign off with some big runs.

“Jonny has been fantastic around the group and really enjoyed being around without the glare of all the media, and so on, and just trying to get stuck in to help us win.

"Hopefully he can come off and get a big score for himself and also get some runs for us and put us in a winning situation.”