YORKSHIRE have so many players who have played international cricket that it is easier to count up those who have not.
One of them is Steve Patterson, who might not have the international caps to show for his efforts but whose value to Yorkshire cannot be overstated.
Patterson, the 31-year-old pace bowler, is the next best thing to the likes of a Joe Root, Gary Ballance or Adam Lyth.
Namely, he is a terrific county cricketer, someone who has given yeoman service over the years.
Patterson has played a big part in Yorkshire becoming the best team in the County Championship, with his nagging seamers – deemed just short of international standard –proving ridiculously reliable in recent times.
Since 2010 and his relatively late flowering at the age of 26, Patterson has been Yorkshire’s ‘Mr Consistent’ .
He took 45 wickets at 26 that summer as the team finished third in Division One, suffered injury problems when they got relegated in 2011, captured 48 wickets at 20 when they got promoted in 2012, took 46 at 25 when they finished runners-up in 2013, and then took 36 at 27 when they won it last summer.
In total, Patterson has taken 226 Championship wickets since the start of the 2010 season at an average of 26, including 30 this year at 22, with a best of 5-11 to help Yorkshire beat tomorrow’s opponents at Scarborough, Worcestershire, in the opening game of the season at New Road.
“Touch wood, it’s been going well,” said Patterson, who made his first-class debut 10 years ago next month.
“My job in the team is to be consistent and not go for many runs, so that when the likes of Jack Brooks comes on, he can give it his all.
“I don’t have the swing that Ryan Sidebottom has, or the pace that Brooksy’s got, so I’ve got to find my success in different areas.
“I try to do that by being consistent, seam it a bit and look to wear down the opposition.”
Patterson’s skill in that regard is highlighted by the fact that he achieved the highest percentage of dot balls by a frontline bowler in last year’s Championship.
Jason Gillespie, the Yorkshire first-team coach, affectionately calls him “The Dot-Ball King” – not the sexiest monicker, perhaps, but one that sums up Patterson’s priceless reliability.
“I don’t like going for runs, I can’t stand it,” said Patterson.
“So I attack by having a lot of people in catching positions in front of the wicket.
“I then try to bowl full and straight and say to the batsman, ‘If you want to score runs off me, you’ve got to hit it beyond him, him, him and him’.
“That’s the way I look to build pressure.”
Along with Sidebottom, Brooks and Tim Bresnan, Patterson is part of a formidable pace attack that gives Yorkshire an edge over their competitors.
That quartet are a big reason why Yorkshire go into tomorrow’s match 14 points clear of second-placed Middlesex with two games in hand and well-placed to land back-to-back Championships.
Perhaps the most frightening thing for the other runners and riders is that Yorkshire, despite the fact they have won six and drawn three of their nine games so far, have arguably not played as well as they did last summer.
The top-order batting, for example, has not been as ruthless as they would wish, but what they invariably have is someone who can dig them out of a difficult situation.
“What’s great about our team – and I stress that we’re a team – is that somebody always stands up when we need them to,” said Patterson.
“At Durham recently, it was Jonny Bairstow and Tim Bresnan who put on a massive partnership.
“In the second innings at Taunton, we were struggling a bit and Adil Rashid stood up and got 99 in a tricky situation.
“For me, that’s the most impressive thing – that somebody’s always stood up for the side at just the right time.”
Although there are definitely areas that Yorkshire can improve, they are starting to build up a head of steam.
Victory at Warwickshire in their last Championship game was their fourth in succession, inspired by 11 wickets for Sidebottom and a brilliant hundred by Bairstow, and they have lost only three of 59 Championship matches going back to 2011.
“We pride ourselves on being hard to beat,” said Patterson, who personifies that over-my-dead-body approach.
“We try to win every game, but, if we can’t, we make sure it’s damn hard for the opposition to beat us.
“We’ve not lost many in the past three or four years.
“Middlesex last year was a bit of a freak when Chris Rogers played one of the most outstanding innings we’ve seen.
“They beat us knocking off the highest chase ever in Championship cricket, and that shows what it took for somebody to beat us.
“We’ve got halfway through this season and not lost yet.
“We’re proud of that, too, and, hopefully, we can carry that on for the rest of the year.”