Yorkshire pride to fuel England, says Whitaker

England selector James Whitaker (Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire).
England selector James Whitaker (Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire).
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NATIONAL selector James Whitaker believes the values that took Yorkshire to the County Championship title can help revive England’s fortunes.

Six of the champions’ players have been chosen in the 16-man squad for next month’s Test tour to the West Indies.

England regulars Joe Root and Gary Ballance, plus a rejuvenated Liam Plunkett, have been joined by Jonny Bairstow and the uncapped Adam Lyth and Adil Rashid.

With five of those six having come up through the Yorkshire Academy (only Plunkett did not), it says much for the values instilled in them from a young age at Headingley – ones which Whitaker believes can now help England get back on track after the World Cup.

Speaking exclusively to The Yorkshire Post, Whitaker said: “The Yorkshire lads can really help drive the culture of the England team.

“The way they’ve been brought up, and the value systems that have helped them play well and aspire to play for Yorkshire, will help continue to drive the same traditions and values in the England side.

“I’m not saying that only Yorkshire has got traditions and values, or that anyone else selected doesn’t bring that type of thing, just that Yorkshire is so obviously a breeding ground for those type of qualities.

“The players have been brought up in a culture at Yorkshire that inspires them to be the very best, and if they can continue that with England, then the team can only be stronger for it.”

Whitaker believes there are several core values the Yorkshire players bring to the national set-up.

And he credits the club’s coaching staff led by Martyn Moxon, Jason Gillespie, Ian Dews and Richard Damms, for helping instil them in their psyche.

“The coaches at Yorkshire have done a fantastic job and it’s testament to the hard work that goes on behind the scenes,” he said.

“The values that I’m talking about are things like honesty, hard work, commitment to the overall team vision, commitment to each other, and so on.

“These lads are very much the right type of characters as well as the right type of cricketers.”

Whitaker, who was born in Skipton and lives in Harrogate, knows full well another significant driver behind Yorkshire’s success – pride in the White Rose.

He believes England can feed off that pride at a time when Yorkshire are providing 37.5 per cent of the national squad.

“There’s obviously huge pride in playing for Yorkshire,” said Whitaker.

“One of the biggest drivers for any team to do well is that people are playing with pride, and there is a real sense of togetherness and commitment to each other that complements the great pride already in the England set-up.

“That pride is what’s driving Yorkshire at the moment, and young kids like Will Rhodes, Jonathan Tattersall, Karl Carver, etc, they’re coming into the side with that same driving force to want to be the best they can personally, but also the best for Yorkshire.

“Clearly, we want anyone coming into the England team to have that same personal and team ambition, and that’s what I mean about the positive influence the Yorkshire lads can have.”

It is a vital period for England, who play three Tests in the West Indies prior to the visit of New Zealand and Australia this summer.

The one-day team were soundly beaten at the World Cup, where England failed to qualify for the knockout stages, and Whitaker sees the West Indies trip as the ideal chance to move forward.

“The World Cup was disappointing, there’s no getting away from that, and we’ve got to review how we can get better in one-day cricket,” he said.

“Everybody who is involved in English cricket has got to take a long, hard look at how we can compete on the world stage at one-day international cricket, it’s as simple as that.

“The West Indies is now a good platform to continue the good work we did in Test cricket last year against India. It will be hard work, but, if we can do well and come back into the English summer with confidence, we’ll be in a good place.”

It remains to be seen how many Yorkshire players feature in the Caribbean, with Lyth and Rashid hoping desperately to make their Test debuts.

Lyth could be doing no more to get the nod over Jonathan Trott to become Alastair Cook’s opening partner, having started the first-class season with a century yesterday against an MCC side featuring Cook in Abu Dhabi, while Rashid hopes to benefit from Moeen Ali’s absence through injury.

“The selections of Adam and Adil show that we do take note of form at county level,” said Whitaker.

“I think they thoroughly deserve their opportunities after the way they played for Yorkshire last year, and Adam has obviously carried on from where he left off.

“Both Adam and Adil have been through periods of ups-and-downs and it’s up to them to take their opportunities. They both deserve their chance, and helping Yorkshire win the Championship last year, while displaying the type of values I’ve mentioned, was fantastic for them.”