Yorkshire excited at potential of Fisher as he prepares to step up
Fisher is poised to play against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge on Sunday due to a calf injury sustained by the squad’s oldest member – 37-year-old Ryan Sidebottom.
The former England man is expected to be out for two-to-four weeks after pulling up while batting against Worcestershire on Monday.
At 17 years and 161 days, Fisher would become the youngest after Paul Jarvis, Doug Padgett, Paul Booth, Gary Ramsden and Kevin Sharp to wear the White Rose in a Championship game.
The York-born pace bowler is already the youngest to appear in a competitive county match for any side, having made his one-day debut against Leicestershire at Scarborough in 2013, aged 15 years and 212 days.
Now Yorkshire believe that Fisher is ready for the acid test of Championship cricket in a continuation of the strategy that “if they’re good enough, they’re old enough”.
The club again showed the strength of their production line and Academy system in the Worcestershire match by fielding spinner Karl Carver (aged 19), all-rounder Will Rhodes (20), batsman Jack Leaning (21) and acting captain Alex Lees, who turned 22 on the final day.
In recent years, they have blooded a number of youngsters in one-day cricket, while in 2011 they famously handed a debut to wicketkeeper Barney Gibson in a university friendly, aged 15 years and 27 days.
Jason Gillespie, the Yorkshire first team coach, said Fisher was firmly in line to replace Sidebottom at Trent Bridge in what promises to be an early-season title battle.
“Matthew Fisher will come into serious consideration to make the XI,” said Gillespie.
“He was in the squad for the game at Worcester, and the likelihood is that he is the next cab off the rank after Siddy’s injury.
“Even before his injury, Siddy was unlikely to play every fixture, so Fish was very much in our thoughts.
“He’s had a chance this week, along with our other young seamers, to put a case forward in the second team game against Glamorgan at Headingley, and he took three wickets on the opening day of that match.”
Fisher, who has represented England Under-19s and played five one-day games for the Yorkshire first team, has impressed Gillespie with his work rate and rapid development.
He has jumped ahead of the likes of Moin Ashraf, the 23-year-old who has not played a first-class match now for almost two years.
“Matthew has worked incredibly hard,” said Gillespie. “He’s got himself nice and fit and strong, and we think he’s put on an extra yard of pace.
“The bottom line is, we’re very excited about young Matthew Fisher – no question.”
Gillespie is very excited too about Rhodes, who helped Yorkshire to a 10-wicket win over Worcestershire on his Championship debut.
Rhodes suffered a duck in the first innings at New Road, but he bounced back with a morale-boosting 45 not out in the second innings, sharing in a match-clinching stand of 105 with Lees.
“Will was obviously disappointed to get a duck in the first innings, and by his own admission he played a shot that was a little bit tentative and got caught in the slips,” said Gillespie.
“In the second innings, he said that he wasn’t going to make the same mistake and he went out and was a bit more positive and it paid off.
“I’ve made it very clear to Will that, in the next month or so, while Adam Lyth is away with England, he’s opening the batting come rain, hail or shine.
“He’s got our full support – the support of all the coaches and all of the lads in the dressing room.”
Rhodes, who bowls left-arm medium and bats right-handed, has captained England at Under-19 level.
The Nottingham-born player scored 61 and took three wickets on his first-class debut against MCC last month, and he is highly regarded by the Yorkshire hierarchy.
“I think he’s a very flexible player,” said Gillespie. “He bats well and also bowls 80mph seamers with good line and length.
“He adds a lot to the team and gives the captain another option.
“He just needs the opportunity and, so far, he’s grabbed that opportunity with both hands, and his innings on the last day at Worcester was a great confidence-boost for the young man.”
If Fisher replaces Sidebottom in the Yorkshire team on Sunday, it is likely that returning captain Andrew Gale will come back into the side in place of Carver, or, should Yorkshire feel they need a frontline spinner, Rich Pyrah.
Gale has finally completed his four-match ban after his verbal spat last summer with Lancashire’s Ashwell Prince, and he will be returning to the Trent Bridge ground where he was infamously prevented from lifting the Championship trophy last September by the England and Wales Cricket Board as part of that suspension.