Yorkshire v Northamptonshire - Royal London Cup: Ali Maiden looking for Yorkshire players to learn and develop during 50-over competition

“ALI-BALL” may not have quite the same linguistic ring to it as “Baz-ball”, but the determination to play exciting and entertaining cricket will be just the same when Yorkshire start their Royal London Cup campaign under the guidance of Ali Maiden in York today.

Good nick: Will Fraine, above chipped in with 88 off 37 deliveries against Northumberland in Yorkshire’s final warm-up match before they start their Royal London Cup campaign. Pictures: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Good nick: Will Fraine, above chipped in with 88 off 37 deliveries against Northumberland in Yorkshire’s final warm-up match before they start their Royal London Cup campaign. Pictures: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

The county’s assistant coach is taking charge of the side for the 50-over competition while head coach Ottis Gibson is away at The Hundred working as James Foster’s assistant with the Headingley-based Northern Superchargers.

Although Maiden will clearly not have the same firepower at his disposal as Brendon McCullum does as England head coach, he wants his men to adopt the same positive philosophy as Yorkshire take on Northamptonshire at the Clifton Park venue in the first of eight group games before the knockout stages.

The home side will be without Gary Ballance, who has tested positive for Covid, in what was expected to have been his first appearance for the first-team in a competitive match since his involvement in the Azeem Rafiq racism crisis.

Stepping up: Yorkshire will be under the command of coach Ali Maiden, left, in the Royal London Cup, while Ottis Gibson works with Hundred franchise Northern Superchargers. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“I want people to go out there and be positive and try to entertain and that’s how we’ll look to play,” said Maiden.

“We haven’t got a huge amount of players left (due to The Hundred); by my last count it was about 14 we can use, but what that means is there are opportunities for players who have been seeking them in the second-team, perhaps, and now they’ve got an opportunity to really go and showcase their talent.

“That’s the way I want the team to play. I’m not very bothered, especially in one-day cricket, about milestones, hundreds, five-fors, fifties, things like that, I’m bothered about winning games of cricket and people putting in performances to help us win games.”

Although winning is the main ambition, it is not the be-all and end-all in a 50-over tournament that is now more about nurturing young players than anything else.

Chance: Matt Revis has the opportunity to make an impression inthe first team, while nine Yorkshire players are on Hundred duty. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Yorkshire are among the worst hit by The Hundred in terms of player-drain, with nine first-teamers unavailable due to the tournament that begins on Wednesday, with the Superchargers’ first match taking place on Friday away to Manchester Originals.

Harry Brook, Adam Lyth, Adil Rashid and David Willey are all playing for Superchargers; Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Dawid Malan and Joe Root are in action for Trent Rockets, and Jordan Thompson is with London Spirit and Jonny Bairstow with Welsh Fire.

Yorkshire would have had 10 players involved in the 100-ball competition but Matthew Fisher’s deal with Birmingham Phoenix was cancelled due to injury, with the England pace bowler hoping that he might still play some part towards the rump end of the season following a stress fracture of the back.

“You obviously want to win,” added Maiden, “you want to win every game, but this competition, as a generalisation, is seen as a development competition now, and my view always with development, especially at this sort of level, is that you’re trying to help the players develop their skills to win games, so although you can’t take that winning part away, if you lose then you can usually take lots of things from that as well.

“It’s a balance. Obviously, we really want to win, but the most important thing is players learning and developing their talents.”

Yorkshire had a little bit of the best of both worlds last year, reaching the quarter-finals while at the same time developing the likes of Harry Duke, George Hill, Will Luxton and Matty Revis.

It was exciting and encouraging to see such players grab their chance and come to the fore, with the aforementioned now having a bit more experience to call on this year.

The competition also offers - as it did for Yorkshire last year when the then assistant coach Rich Pyrah took charge of the 50-over side while the then head coach Andrew Gale was away with Superchargers - the chance for coaches to develop as well.

Maiden, who specialises as batting coach, is relishing the opportunity to take charge of the side and to increase his learning in that leadership role.

“I feel like it’s a really good opportunity for me,” he said. “I haven’t been here long, so it’s an opportunity to have some better relationships with the players and really take the team on a little bit really, spend some time with the players in a different role, which is quite nice and quite exciting. I’m really looking forward to it.

“I’ve obviously spent a lot of time with Ottis (Gibson), so I’ll be following on a lot of those messages, a lot of the things that we’ve already been doing, and building on that work.

“I’ve had various conversations with Ottis about how we’re going to play, how the team is set up, things like that, so it’s very much about trying to have continuity in terms of what we’ll be doing.”

Yorkshire warmed up for their first game by thrashing National Counties side Northumberland by 148 runs at South North CC on Sunday.

Ballance made his first first-team appearance of any sort since last September, top-scoring with 95 from just 25 balls as Yorkshire scored 290-5 in a match reduced by rain to 23 overs per side. Will Fraine chipped in with 88 from 37 deliveries.

Matthew Waite was the most successful bowler with 3-16 from five overs as Northumberland finished on 142-8 in Jonny Tattersall’s first game as Yorkshire captain after replacing Steve Patterson in the role until the end of the season.

Yorkshire (from): Bean, Cliff, Duke, Fraine, Hill, Luxton, Loten, Revis, Shutt, Sullivan, Tattersall (captain), Waite.