Yorkshire CCC’s Ottis Gibson takes a swing at ECB fixture schedulers ahead of T20 Blast campaign

OTTIS GIBSON has described the county cricket schedule as “crazy” and warned that it will “break fast bowlers” and hamper their development.

As he prepared to lead his side into the T20 Blast tournament, just three days after six County Championship games in as many weeks, the Yorkshire head coach said that the programme is “not player friendly” and “needs to be looked at”.

“I think it’s crazy, to be honest,” said Gibson, whose team begin their quest to win Yorkshire’s first T20 trophy against Worcestershire at Headingley on Wednesday.

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“Six four-day games in six weeks… It’s hard to play six games in six weeks, keep bodies fit and fresh and maintain quality. It’s been difficult, and now we’re straight into the Blast.

Ottis Gibson raps schedulers for 'crazy' fixtures (Picture: SWPix.com)

“It will always be a difficult thing to get right because of the amount of cricket and the different formats, but I’m sure there’s somebody there at the ECB think-tank who will try and figure it out and make it more player-friendly, I guess, because this one isn’t player friendly.

“This one is, especially if you’re a fast bowler… this is going to break fast bowlers down, for sure. There’s been a lot of injuries to fast bowlers already in the first six weeks, and if the schedule remains the same it will continue to hamper the growth of young fast bowlers, I believe.”

Gibson pointed to the quick turnaround when Yorkshire take on Birmingham Bears in a T20 at Edgbaston on the night of Friday June 10 before starting a Championship match against Hampshire in Southampton at 11am on Sunday June 12.

Should that Championship game go to the wire, the players would potentially arrive back in Yorkshire late on Wednesday/the early hours of Thursday before facing another T20 against Durham in Chester-le-Street on the Friday night, followed by another against Derbyshire in Chesterfield on the Saturday afternoon.

Joe Root is in the squad for Yorkshire Vikings tonight. (Picture: Tony Johnson)

“One of the key components of coaching for me is the ability to prepare your guys for a match,” added Gibson. “With the schedule the way it is, it makes it very difficult to get preparation right.

“Quite often, after a long four days, you’re trying to patch the guys up and trying to keep them fresh, then you have a different format and you’ve got to adapt to that and it takes a different energy, and so on, so the scheduling needs to be looked at, for sure.”

Yorkshire’s T20 schedule is absurdly unbalanced. Six of their first seven group games are at home, six of their next/last seven away. They are one of five counties never to have won the T20 (the others are Derbyshire, Durham, Glamorgan and Gloucestershire) but have a strong squad on paper, with Joe Root and Harry Brook available for the first three games before linking up with the Test squad, Pakistan overseas duo Haris Rauf and Shadab Khan available for the first four (Shadab returns for the final six after international duty), and New Zealand batsman Finn Allen available from game five onwards. Adil Rashid is available apart from a three-match one-day international series in Holland that runs from June 17-22, although Yorkshire’s T20 captain David Willey is still at the IPL.

Dawid Malan, who rested a sore Achilles last week, is back along with fellow batsman Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who is poised to make his first appearance after suffering concussion during the winter at the Pakistan Super League; Kohler-Cadmore is expected to keep wicket if he plays.

Yorkshire County Cricket Club's head coach Ottis Gibson in front of the Carnegie Pavilion at Headingley Cricket Ground (Picture: SWPix.com)

“We have to capitalise on the availability of the quality players that we have and see if we can get off to a good start with some wins and set the platform for what we hope will be a good tournament,” said Gibson, a former T20 World Cup-winning coach with West Indies and also an English T20 winner as a player with Leicestershire.

“We’ve spoken about what our aims are, and getting to Finals Day would be a fantastic outcome for us this season. It’s going to take a squad effort for us to do well; there will be guys coming in and out and changes in personnel. We don’t want to be overly reliant on one or two people; we want everyone in the squad, at some point, to help win us games.”

While stressing the squad effort needed, Gibson is excited by Yorkshire’s spin department.

“Our point of difference this year could be the fact that we’ve got two leg-spinners (Rashid and Shadab),” he said.

“That will probably be a novelty in T20.

“Not many teams will have not just two leg-spinners, but two world-class leg-spinners.

“The fact that we have Rash up front is fantastic, and Shadab was just the player of the year in the PSL, so he’s going to be outstanding, I think, for us as well.

“There’s an opportunity, if we choose, to have three spinners (including Dom Bess), and if we can have 12 overs of quality spin that could suffocate some teams.”

Squad: Bess, Brook, Fraine, Hill, Khan, Kohler-Cadmore, Lyth, Malan, Rashid, Rauf, Revis, Root, Tattersall, Thompson.