YORKSHIRE captain Steve Patterson is calling on his players to end their County Championship season on a high.
Patterson wants them to finish strongly in their match against Kent at Headingley, starting Monday, and in their final game of the campaign against Warwickshire at Edgbaston a week Monday.
Yorkshire go into this week’s fixture third in Division One with a record of five wins, four draws and three defeats.
Although Yorkshire can mathematically still finish second, they can realistically come no higher than third, which is now their target as they seek to achieve their best position since 2016.
We’ll be going all out to win those last two games and to try and secure that third position.Steve Patterson
“If we end up losing the last couple of games after losing to Somerset in our last match, it would be a really kind of sour note to finish the summer on after we’ve won five Championship games this year with a young side,” said Patterson, who leads a 12-man squad that includes the 17-year-old second-team opener Matthew Revis, who is hoping to make his first-class debut.
“We’ve beaten some good sides and I think that’s a real achievement for a young group of players. If we can win one or two more I think that would be a fantastic end to the summer, and we’d have taken some big strides forward with an inexperienced group.
“We’ll be going all out to win those last two games and to try and secure that third position.”
Yorkshire, 43 points behind second-placed Essex, are one of three teams vying for third along with today’s fifth-placed opponents and fourth-placed Hampshire. It is tight, with Hampshire only five points behind Yorkshire and Kent 12 adrift of Patterson’s men.
Although Somerset and Essex have been the standout sides this season, Yorkshire thrashed Somerset by an innings at Headingley and might have beaten Essex there too but for bad weather. Patterson believes that there has been little to choose between the top teams.
“I think the biggest difference is consistency,” he said. “When we play our best cricket, I don’t think there is much between us and the top-two sides.
“We beat Somerset at home and against Essex at home were pushing to make them follow-on but didn’t quite manage it and lost a lot of time due to rain. But, away from home, we lost to both Essex and Somerset and consistency is probably the reason why they’re 40-50 points in front of us.”
Yorkshire’s struggle for consistency was highlighted at Taunton last week where they started strongly to reduce Somerset to 85-6 on the first day.
But after bowling them out for 199, Yorkshire collapsed from 86-3 to 103 all-out in reply, a passage of play which cost them the match.
“When you lose that many wickets in 40 minutes or so, it just kills you and knocks the wind out of you,” said Patterson.
“In our previous match against Nottinghamshire at Scarborough, we were put into bat and on a good surface we found ourselves 38-5.
“If it hadn’t been for Jonny Tattersall and Tim Bresnan (who put on 121 for the sixth wicket), the game would have been gone there and then, but they clawed us back in and, against a Notts side who were low on confidence, we managed to get on top of them from there and win the game.
“But there’s only so often you can get out of a position like that and claw your way back into a match, and against a top team like Somerset, they don’t let you back.”
Yorkshire lost by 298 runs at Taunton despite 10 wickets in the match for spinner Keshav Maharaj in his final appearance as an overseas player.
Maharaj is replaced for the final two games by Ajaz Patel, a 30-year-old left-arm spinner who has played seven Tests for New Zealand.
“We’re looking forward to having Ajaz for these last couple of matches,” said Patterson. “He comes highly rated. Martin Guptill (the New Zealand opening batsman) was one of the guys who has spoken very highly of him to me.
“He’s got a very good Test and domestic record.
“Ajaz is someone who spins it like Kesh, an attacking spinner, a spinner who looks to take wickets, which is what we need. Kesh did an outstanding job for us and we’d love to have him back at some point in the future.
“He fitted in really well and he knows how we feel about him and how much we’ve enjoyed having him here, and I’d like to think it’s not the last time he wears a Yorkshire shirt.
“Whether that’s next season we’re not sure; he gets married in May, and that would rule him out for a chunk of the season when there’s a lot of county cricket.
“We’ll just have to look at the fixture list and look at his availability and figure out what’s best for us.”
Yorkshire moved for Patel before their title hopes were mathematically ended at Taunton. The club are without a trio of injured spinners in the form of Adil Rashid, Josh Poysden and James Logan, while off-spinner Jack Shutt has only played T20 for the first-team so far.
Revis comes into the squad as fellow opener Will Fraine is out with a damaged left knee. Pace bowler Ben Coad is also unavailable due to what the club describe as “medical reasons”, with Coad having been withdrawn from action down at Taunton.
Coad and Fraine are expected to train this week, however, and their progress will be monitored ahead of the Warwickshire game.
“Ben has got a bit of a medical issue,” said Patterson. “He went back (from Somerset) to be assessed by a doctor, but we’re not overly worried about him.
“Will’s injury was innocuous really. He was jogging around in the warm-ups (at Taunton) and his kneecap came out of place and went back him, which has happened to him before.
“He was in a lot of pain at the time.”
Yorkshire (from): Ballance, Bresnan, Brook, Fisher, Kohler-Cadmore, Lyth, Olivier, Patel, Patterson (captain), Revis, Tattersall, Willey.