IT IS one of sport’s oldest cliches that a good start is vital, but Yorkshire believe it could be key to their chances of winning the T20 title as they await the arrival of star reinforcements.
Yorkshire go into their opening game of this year’s tournament against Durham at Emerald Headingley tonight missing a number of big-name players.
Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Plunkett, David Willey and Adil Rashid are unavailable due to England’s white-ball fixtures against India, and the club are also without an overseas player pending the arrival of New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.
England’s white-ball fixtures finish on July 17, and although Root and Bairstow will still be unavailable due to the subsequent Test series against India, Plunkett, Willey and Rashid will return to county duty after that date.
The England trio should be available for the sixth of Yorkshire’s 14 group games, against Lancashire at Old Trafford on July 20, and all subsequent T20 fixtures, while Williamson will make his first appearance in that Roses match and be available up to and including any quarter-final.
It gives Yorkshire a potentially formidable hue from the latter stages of July onwards as they attempt to win the trophy for the first time.
The club have an unflattering T20 record, having only twice reached Finals Day, but captain Steve Patterson believes that a flying start could help to provide that perfect platform.
“If we can start well and get some good results early, then we’ll more or less have a full squad to choose from going forward and we should be in a really good place,” he said.
“We know that after the first four or five games we’ll have all the England one-day lads back as well, plus Kane Williamson, and you look at the form that those guys are in and they’re an asset to anybody.
“Hopefully, we can improve on what we’ve just done in the 50-over comp (the Royal London Cup), when we reached the semi-finals.
We know that our skills are there because we proved it in the 50-over comp, and I think it’s an exciting time for our white-ball cricket.Steve Patterson
“We know that our skills are there because we proved it in the 50-over comp, and I think it’s an exciting time for our white-ball cricket.”
Patterson insists that Yorkshire can take great heart from their efforts in the Royal London tournament, when they lost to eventual cup winners Hampshire in the semi-finals.
Patterson led them to five straight victories to help secure qualification before Yorkshire lost by 107 runs at Southampton, where Hampshire captain James Vince effectively won the match off his own bat with a brilliant 171.
“To get to a semi-final I thought was a really good achievement, and we can take confidence from the way that we played in the 50-over,” he said.
“It’s an exciting time for the T20 to come around because the 50-over is still fresh in our minds.
“The semi-final at Hampshire was just one of those things; we’d won five in a row to put ourselves in that position, and that in itself was a monumental achievement.
“It just proved to be one game too much really, and we didn’t quite get it right on the day and were punished by an innings of high quality from Vince.”
Patterson, 34, has built his reputation as a bowler primarily in County Championship cricket and, to a slightly lesser degree, the List A game.
The T20 format is not one in which he has been heavily involved throughout his career, although his averages are strikingly similar across the three different formats.
Patterson has taken 49 wickets in 50 T20 games at an average of 28.59, compared to 114 wickets in 90 List A contests at 28.60 and 363 wickets in 136 first-class fixtures at 27.82.
Last year, in fact, he was ever-present in the T20 team, capturing 14 wickets at 24.21 and more than playing his part alongside such seasoned T20 bowlers as Tim Bresnan, Azeem Rafiq, Willey and Rashid.
Yorkshire squad versus Durham (from): Ballance, Bresnan, Brook, Brooks, Coad, Fisher, Kohler-Cadmore, Leaning, Lyth, Patterson (captain), Rafiq, Shaw, Tattersall.