Jordan Thompson is his name, and rarely has a player come from left-field to make such an impact, seizing his chance after fellow all-rounder Matthew Waite went down injured before that first game.
Thompson recalls: “I spoke to Galey (Andrew Gale, Yorkshire first-team coach) before that opening match at Durham.
“He said, ‘Tommo, you’ll be in the squad for the Durham Champo game, but Waitey’s going to play ahead of you at the moment. But if there is an injury, then make sure you’re ready’.”
Thompson continues: “So, going up to Durham, I was just expecting to be running on drinks during the week.
“But Waitey got injured the day before, which allowed me to step in and take my chance.
“I didn’t expect to play as much cricket as I did, but, two months later, it turns out that I’ve played every game possible.
“It feels like it’s come and gone pretty quickly, but I loved every minute of it.”
During that game in Chester-le-Street, Thompson, who turns 24 on Friday week, collected match figures of 5-69 from 32 overs as Yorkshire won their opening fixture in the Bob Willis Trophy (BWT).
He then showed his prowess with the bat in the next match at Trent Bridge, top-scoring with 98 to help his side recover from 136-5 in their first innings against Nottinghamshire to reach a final total of 264.
After the hosts replied with 355, to take a lead of 91, Thompson followed up with a patient 33 as Notts were left to chase 188.
Then it was back to strutting his stuff with the ball as the man who bowls right-arm and bats left-handed returned his team’s best figures of 3-6 from five overs to help close out an impressive win.
“I played two contrasting innings at Notts,” says Thompson.
“I batted for a decent amount of time to get my 98 but I let loose a little bit at the end when we were nine-down and I had a bit of licence to go after the bowlers.
“In the second innings, when we were behind, and trying to build an innings to win the game, I think I got 33 off 90-odd balls, whereas my 98 came off about 103.
“Although I got out for 33, I think it showed that I can build an innings and change my tempo when I need to.”
Any regrets, looking back, that he did not push a couple of singles for a first innings hundred?
Thompson went down swinging instead, unselfishly trying to get runs for the side.
“A few people have said that to me,” he laughs. “In the moment, I wasn’t too frustrated because the main aim was to get us up to a decent score.
“Looking back now there’s regrets but, at the end of the day, it’s 98 runs. To have had a “1” in that hundred column would be nice, but hopefully I’ll get many more chances.”
Strong and powerful with an all-action style, a player with the ability to leave observers on the edge of their seats, Thompson has proved that he is by no means a one-trick pony.
He can clear the ropes as effortlessly as anyone – he peppered the Trent Bridge stands for fun during the 98 – but he has a good defence to back it up and the patience and desire to construct an innings.
Further evidence of his composure arrived during an unbeaten 36 in a rain-ruined draw against Derbyshire, followed by a knock of 62 in a 10-wicket win in the final BWT match at home to Leicestershire, against whom he captured his maiden five-wicket haul (5-31).
“Batting at seven in a Championship game, it’s crucial that you’re able to still build an innings,” he says.
“I’ve batted at four in the second team but, as a genuine all-rounder, you’re never going to come in and bat four in the first team.
“I think batting four in the second team has prepared me well for this role because I’ve been able to get a lot of exposure to batting long periods of time.
“As an all-rounder, it’s all about stepping up when needed and adapting to the situation, and you’ve got to work equally as hard on each area of your game.”
A genuine all-rounder who favours no particular facet of the game, Thompson finished second in Yorkshire’s BWT batting averages to Dawid Malan, scoring 234 runs at 46.80.
He was Yorkshire’s leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 15 at 16.40 and also their joint-highest wicket-taker in the T20 Blast (eight at 25.50) alongside Matthew Fisher.
Thompson effectively filled the role left by Tim Bresnan, who joined Warwickshire shortly before the start of the season.
Thompson now hopes to make that position in the team his own and, refreshingly, in no way takes for granted the fact that he will walk straight back into the side next year.
“Both in Championship and T20, there’s going to be people fighting for places in similar areas, the likes of me, Dave Willey, Matthew Waite, Matty Fisher,” he says.
“We’re maybe fighting for a couple of spots, so it’s going to be whoever’s in decent form and who can take that place and run with it.
“Hopefully, moving forward, I can establish myself as that all-rounder, especially with Tim Bresnan having left because there’s a gap there for somebody to take and play there consistently.
“I always back myself as a genuine all-rounder and, at my best, I think I bowl as well as I bat and I bat as well as I bowl.”
Thompson looked up to Bresnan as he came through the ranks. The former Ashes-winner had been there and done it, and he was only too happy to pass on advice.
“We’d speak as a group of all-rounders,” says Thompson. “Me, Matthew Waite, Matthew Fisher, and a couple of the other young lads, we’d speak to Bres about all sorts of cricketing stuff and his experiences of playing for England, things like that.
“When I was coming through the Yorkshire Academy, Bres was still playing for England, so watching him in that role and then when he was back at Yorkshire – that’s something that I aspire to be like, definitely.
“I managed to play a few games with him in the last couple of years before he moved on to Warwickshire, so I’d definitely say that Bres is somebody that I looked up to when I was coming through.”
Prior to this season, Thompson had played just two first-class games and had mostly featured in T20 cricket.
Like all cricketers, he was just grateful to get on the field at all.
“At the end of the day, we were lucky to play cricket at all this season with what’s gone on,” he says.
“We had three or four months of the season taken away from us, and people were just grateful to get out there and enjoy a bit of cricket.
“I certainly felt that when I was playing – to go out there and embrace the challenge of playing professional cricket regularly for Yorkshire was something I really enjoyed.
“Hopefully it showed in the way that I played.”
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