YORKSHIRE are planning to overhaul their practice routines in an effort to crack T20 cricket.
The club want to introduce more match-based practice – as opposed to net practice – to replicate the pressure of game situations.
Yorkshire face a challenge in finding the right facilities due to the demands on groundsmen, pitches and the weight of fixtures.
But they are determined to master a format of the game in which they have struggled; Yorkshire have never won the T20 Cup, introduced in 2003, and this is the sixth time in seven years that they have failed to reach the knockout stages.
“We’ve discussed it at length and have decided to look at things differently going forward,” said director of cricket Martyn Moxon.
As much as you try, you cannot replicate that match pressure in net practice, and the fact is that we’re falling short at the vital times.Chris Waters
“It’s the crucial moments that we’ve lost this season, the pressure moments, and they’ve undone a lot of the good work that we’ve done which has put us into good positions at times.
“With T20, in particular, you only really get better by playing it, so we’re going to try and find windows of opportunity to play more match-based scenarios on a ground, playing a mini-match, if you like, to replicate the various stages of games.
“We’ll be looking to do more of that next season and in pre-season rather than just having nets; the challenge will be finding the right facilities and the right ground to practice on, but I can’t think of any other way that we can improve other than by trying to replicate the pressure of a T20 match.
“In the nets, we try and set-up match scenarios, of course, but I think that gone are the days where we can just have practice in nets.
“As much as you try, you cannot replicate that match pressure in net practice, and the fact is that we’re falling short at the vital times.
“That’s not to say that we won’t still have individual net practice; you can still practice specific shots in nets, you can still practice yorkers, slower balls and so on, but then it’s got to be challenged out in the middle.
“There’s going to be a combination of both but with more open, match-based practice than we have been doing to put the lads under more of the sort of pressure they face in games.”
Yorkshire’s proactive strategy highlights their determination to effect change, with the club having slipped to the bottom of the North Group ahead of their final two games against Northants at Headingley tonight and against Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston tomorrow.
Moxon and his fellow coaches are working tirelessly to reverse a trend which has been in stark contrast to the club’s splendid County Championship form this year, with Yorkshire third in the table and still an outside chance of overhauling leaders Essex, whom they trail by 37 points with three games left.
Yorkshire have made good strides in the four-day competition and believe they can challenge each season on all three fronts (Championship, 50-over and T20), but they admit that they have flattered to deceive in T20 especially. This is perhaps best highlighted by the fact that, rather incongruously given their overall record, Yorkshire hold the two-highest T20 totals ever recorded in England: 260-4 versus Northants at Headingley in 2017, and 255-2 against Leicestershire at Grace Road earlier this summer.
“Our aspiration is to be competitive in all three formats, but in T20 it’s all about those critical areas,” said Moxon.
“The areas I’m talking about specifically are at the start and end of the innings bowling-wise – we’re not controlling those as well as we need to if we’re going to be winning competitions – and then finishing games off with the bat.
“Last Sunday (against Notts at Trent Bridge) was a great example, where we played very well to get to the brink of victory and, I would argue, outplayed Notts for 36 overs of the game.
“But the last couple of overs of their innings and of our innings they won, and it was those four overs which proved absolutely crucial to the result.
“We also need more match-winning innings and more match-winning bowling performances, rather than bit-part performances or okay performances.
“We’ve had a few, like Jack Shutt the other night at Durham with 5-11, which was a match-winning performance, and that’s from a young kid whose played about half-a-dozen games.
“But you look at the success of a team like Derbyshire, for example, and (batsman) Billy Godleman has won games for them this season.
“We’ve got potential match-winners, some excellent players, but we haven’t had enough match-winning performances unfortunately.”
Although Yorkshire can no longer qualify for the quarter-finals, Moxon is promising no let-up in determination in the last two games.
He said that the players are desperate to end on a high.
“We want to win both games,” he said.
“We don’t want to finish bottom of any league.
“There’s an absolute desire and determination among the players.
“We’re playing for pride.”