YORKSHIRE have revealed that they are looking to appoint a batting coach as they prepare for their biggest County Championship Roses match in years.
Ahead of Monday’s game against Lancashire at Emerald Headingley, with second-bottom Yorkshire one point behind their rivals with a game in hand in the battle to beat the drop, the club say that they want to recruit someone to support their existing coaching team.
Yorkshire’s batting has been a problem for several seasons – even in 2015 when they won the second of successive Championship titles.
They were bailed out that year by Jonny Bairstow, who scored 1,108 runs in nine games at an average of 92.33 before cementing his England place, thus depriving Yorkshire of his services along with those of Test captain Joe Root.
Mark Arthur, the Yorkshire chief executive, said: “We are looking to give (director of cricket) Martyn Moxon and (first-team coach) Andrew Gale more support within the coaching set-up.
“We’ve always had a lean backroom staff compared to other counties and we recognise that we need more help in the batting department.
The challenges with the batting have been going on for a while, and we want to take a proactive approach. Even when we won the Championship in 2015.Yorkshire CEO Mark Arthur
“Martyn is not getting any younger and wants to spend more time overlooking some of the pathways to professional cricket, so cannot give as much support as he wants himself.
“We’re looking at bringing in a batting coach to support the firsts, the seconds and also the Academy.”
Yorkshire’s move is effectively an extension of an experiment earlier this season in which Pakistan batting coach Grant Flower briefly worked with the team during the Championship match against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.
Moxon saw it as a perfect chance to tap into Flower’s expertise while he was over in England with the Pakistan side, having been impressed first-hand with the way that Flower prepared the Pakistanis for the Headingley Test.
That move built on a previous initiative to make more use of the club’s sports psychologist Dr Mark Nesti, who is now having at least three sessions each year with every player from the Academy upwards instead of the previous ad hoc arrangement.
The new batting coach will also support the work of bowling coach Rich Pyrah, the former Yorkshire all-rounder.
“We’re basically talking about this situation at the moment,” added Arthur.
“We just want to bring in more support within the coaching structure.
“The challenges with the batting have been going on for a while, and we want to take a proactive approach.
“Even when we won the Championship in 2015 we were held together by Jonny Bairstow and in 2016 (when Yorkshire almost did the hat-trick) we were held together by Tim Bresnan along with some cameo performances.”
As Yorkshire look to finish on the right side of a second successive relegation fight, amid swirling criticism on social media, the club remain firmly behind their coaching staff.
Gale, in particular, has come under fire, but Arthur echoed previous remarks made by Moxon to The Yorkshire Post in which he urged people to get behind the former Championship-winning captain.
“Andrew retains the full support of Martyn and myself,” said Arthur. “Our precarious situation in the table cannot be blamed on Andrew in a competition in which 25 per cent of the teams are relegated and at a time when we’re missing several of our best players.
“We’ve missed up to seven players at any time during the season, so how can people hold the coach solely accountable for that? They can’t.
“I think there’s a lot of nonsense out there on social media, and Andrew works incredibly hard and prepares the players incredibly well for every game of cricket.
“What I see personally, and what the members don’t see, is the interaction around the dressing room, around the building, when there’s no cricket on, no matches taking place, and it’s a very positive environment. The work that Andrew does is absolutely first-class.”
As Yorkshire target a victory this week that would significantly ease their relegation concerns, with talismanic captain Steve Patterson back after a broken finger, Arthur reiterated that the club are going through a transitional phase.
He expects that transition to last two to three years as Yorkshire look to recapture the heights that saw them win two Championships under Gale.
“The success that we had in the first place took a lot of building, and that’s what we’re doing again,” he said.
“We know what to do to create a Championship-winning team, and it’s a really good challenge.
“If everything was easy, straightforward, where would the challenge be? It just makes you more determined to be successful, because nobody likes this feeling.”
Arthur said that he sympathised with supporters and appreciated their concerns.
“Of course I have got a lot of sympathy with our members and supporters because we are the largest county, we’ve got the most cricket clubs, we’ve won the Championship on the most occasions and we provide the most players to the England set-up,” he added.
“There’s a huge frustration when we’re not winning things, and you can obviously understand it.
“But we’re going through a rebuilding process. We’ve got a decent crop of youngsters coming through and we’ve got to give them time to bed in so that we can challenge for honours.
“We’re also looking to bring in another couple of players between now and the start of next season and are doing everything that we can to take the club forward.”