Yorkshire CCC v Sussex: Captain Jonny Tattersall still chasing unlikely County Championship promotion

THE odds may be stacked against his team, but stand-in captain Jonny Tattersall hasn’t given up hope of Yorkshire still securing a top-two finish – and with it promotion back to the top tier of the County Championship.

As it stands, with six games remaining, Yorkshire sit sixth in Divison Two, their hopes of securing a second win of the campaign thwarted by the weather as much as Worcestershire’s second innings resistance at New Road last week.

Ahead of today’s visit to Headingley from third-placed Sussex - along with fourth-placed Glamorgan one of only two teams who remain unbeaten in the second tier this season - Yorkshire are 28 points adrift of Leicestershire, the team who currently occupy second spot.

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That already makes securing promotion a relatively long shot. Throw in the feared points deduction that is hanging over their heads in the wake of the CDC hearings over the Azeem Rafiq racism affair, and it pretty much looks - to some eyes - game over for Yorkshire.

LEADING MAN: Yorkshire's Jonathan Tattersall celebrates his half century against Gloucestershire. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comLEADING MAN: Yorkshire's Jonathan Tattersall celebrates his half century against Gloucestershire. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
LEADING MAN: Yorkshire's Jonathan Tattersall celebrates his half century against Gloucestershire. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

But Tattersall refuses to give up the chase.

“If we keep playing that kind of cricket and win a lot of these games, we still might end up being close to promotion - you just don’t know,” he said.

“That obviously depends on the results of the points deduction. You still don’t know until somebody tells you. If we can get on a winning streak, who knows where we could be at the end of year.

“Getting into that winning habit is massive for some of the younger lads. At Chesterfield last month (when Yorkshire beat Derbyshire) that was some of the lads’ first win in Championship cricket.

STILL IN THE GAME: Yorkshire's Jonathan Tattersall takes a catch from the bowling of Dan Moriarty to dismiss Gloucestershire captain Graeme van Buuren. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comSTILL IN THE GAME: Yorkshire's Jonathan Tattersall takes a catch from the bowling of Dan Moriarty to dismiss Gloucestershire captain Graeme van Buuren. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
STILL IN THE GAME: Yorkshire's Jonathan Tattersall takes a catch from the bowling of Dan Moriarty to dismiss Gloucestershire captain Graeme van Buuren. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
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“It’s difficult to win games of four-day cricket, but if we can get those lads winning a few games and get that winning feeling going – get them used to what it takes to win four-day matches – then that’s obviously going to help us out going into next season as well.”

Tattersall is adamant that the quality shown by Yorkshire in their stalemate at Worcestershire, bodes well for their next two four-day clashes, both of which are at home with leaders Durham due to visit Scarborough next week.

A total of 134 overs were lost because of rain and bad light at New Road which saw Yorkshire post 407 all out in the first innings before making the hosts follow-on 165 runs behind before they finished on 142-2 second time around.

“It was frustrating in terms of the weather, but there was nothing in the performance to be frustrated about,” said Tattersall. “I thought we were excellent.

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“We did all we could bar getting the extra batting point that we just missed out on. We tried everything. To be able to be in a position to push for a win was an unbelievable effort.”

A key moment came in the first innings, during the second half of day three, when Worcestershire’s 10th-wicket pair Ben Gibbon and Adam Finch shared 63 inside 36 overs to advance from 179-9 to 242 all out.

“We put the ball in good areas and just didn’t find the edge,” continued wicketkeeper-batter Tattersall. “It was almost as if we were too good.

“We tried different things – short balls and setting the field back. But that didn’t work. They were up to that challenge. We threw everything at them.”

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There were plenty of positives with both bat and ball, Fin Bean leading the way with 135 in the first innings, allied to fellow opener Adam Lyth contributing a classy 79.

Ben Coad spearheaded the bowling effort with a first innings haul of 5-33, while Tattersall was quick to praise the contribution of Matthew Fisher, who claimed 2-73 from 21 overs in the first innings and 0-41 from 11 in the second innings.

“Fish bowled magnificently,” added Tattersall. “He probably didn’t get the wickets he deserved. It was probably the best that we’ve seen him bowl.

“And the longevity of him doing it as well. We were out there across three days, granted there were rain breaks and stuff, but I hope he gets a lot of confidence from that.

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“Hopefully we can push on and get the 20 wickets that I feel we deserved to get at Worcester.”

Home comforts could have a lot to do with Yorkshire being able to grant Tattersall his winning wish.

“The lads are really looking forward to it,” said Tattersall. “I know the bowlers for certain are looking forward to getting back to the Dukes ball in this game.

“Sussex first, obviously, but Scarborough is always a great week. That will be a really tough challenge as well against a very good Durham side.”

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When play gets underway today, it will only be Tattersall’s fourth Championship appearance of the season, his campaign starting with a broken finger that kept him out of first-team action until late May.

The wicket-keeper/batter will be hoping can come close to repeating the kind of batting display which brought him 79 in Yorkshire’s last Championship match at Headingley against Gloucestershire at the start of the month, the game ending in a draw.

“I always look at the Championship as the bulk of the season because T20s can be a bit hit and miss,” he added. “Even though I’ve played 12 Blast games, I feel like I’ve not really done much.”