Yorkshire’s T20 hopes over when Covid-19 ‘ripped heart out of our team’

THE keyboard warriors were out in force on Thursday night, calling for every Tom, Dick and Harry to be sacked after Yorkshire’s latest T20 defeat.

Yorkshire's coach Andrew Gale. (Picture: SWPix.com)

As the club gears up for its final match of the season tomorrow, just 50 days after the campaign began, there are clearly no Fifty Shades of Grey for some individuals, who made their feelings known on social media.

But while a seven-run defeat to Lancashire at Old Trafford was no doubt disappointing, not least because Yorkshire were 115-1 in the 13th over, chasing 168, with Adam Lyth and Joe Root going great guns, a little perspective is surely required.

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Yes, Yorkshire should never have lost from that position, a fourth successive defeat ending their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals, but those hopes effectively died last Monday when they lost four key players to Covid-19 including David Willey, their talismanic captain.

Yorkshire's David Willey was absent due to a positive Covid 19 test (Picture: SWPix.com)

A positive test result for Willey, who had met up socially with team-mates Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Matthew Fisher and Josh Poysden last weekend prior to developing symptoms, necessitated the dreaded 14-day self-isolation period for all concerned and ripped the heart out of Yorkshire’s side.

It left Andrew Gale, the first-team coach who usually – and stoically – bears the brunt of the brickbats, facing a near-impossible task to guide a largely young and inexperienced side to qualification from a hitherto promising position in the table.

With injuries and the unavailability of international players also biting hard at various stages, it has been difficult for Yorkshire to gain and maintain momentum.

Consequently, having been confident of success going into the tournament, despite Yorkshire’s struggles in the 20-over format over the years, Gale and the club have been dealt a pretty rough hand.

Joe Root of Yorkshire Vikings (Picture: SWPIx.com)

“I felt going into this competition that we had a good chance,” said Gale ahead of tomorrow’s match against Derbyshire at Headingley (actually a home game for the visitors whose ground is being used by England women).

“If I’m being honest, I didn’t expect us to win the group because Notts are an experienced, excellent team, and Lancs are also a bloody good side.

“But I think we showed at Old Trafford that we can go close to them, and had we had our full availability of players, I’m pretty sure we’d have won the game.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t quite able to get the job done.

“If you turn the clocks back a week, a week-and-a-half, we were actually sat nicely in T20.

“We’d just come off the back of winning the Bob Willis Trophy group and had done plenty of good stuff in T20 too, despite being on the wrong end of a couple of close games.

“We were there or thereabouts, but when you lose three bowlers in one day to the Covid situation, and an opening batter, it was like suddenly losing four key players to injury during one game.

“When you think at the back end of the comp’ we were potentially going to have Rooty and Mala (Joe Root and Dawid Malan), which we have done, we were looking at having a really good, experienced side.

“But we’ve had the heart of our team ripped out and all the chaos that goes around it – lads waiting on the Covid situation, us spending days off on our phones trying to find out what the guidelines are, and young lads thrown into key periods of the game in T20 cricket.”

It is that latter aspect, when all is said and done and the keyboard warriors have packed away their weapons for another season, that will most encourage Gale and Yorkshire as they look towards next season and beyond.

The club has handed a clutch of promising young players their chance this year, with 18-year-old left-arm spinner Sam Wisniewski the latest to make his first-team debut on Thursday night.

“The positives are that these young lads will learn valuable lessons and be better off for it,” added Gale.

“It’s tough because we want to win – it hurts me that we’ve lost four on the spin – but you’ve got to put it in perspective as well; how many debuts have we given this year to blokes?

“If you look down the number of games that some of our lads have played it’s very small, and they will only get better for the experience.

“That’s the harsh reality that we’ve had at the back end of this competition, but also the positives that we can take out of it as well.”

Wisniewski, a bowler who looks as difficult to face as his surname is a blighter to type, betrayed no outward sign of nerves in an impressive debut in Manchester, where he conceded only five runs from his first over at the height of a Liam Livingstone/Steven Croft onslaught and 15 runs in total from two overs.

“I thought he looked the part,” said Gale. “He was coming on at a tough time when two experienced lads were going well, and they treated him with respect. I thought he bowled really well. He probably bowled two bad balls out of his two overs – two full tosses.

“One went for six and one went for one. But what an experience for him.

“He was on the Yorkshire Cricket College last year, and for him to come into the side and perform like he has done, I’m really pleased for him. He looks like he’s got a big future.”

Yorkshire squad versus Derbyshire (from): Birkhead, Brook, Coad, Fraine, Lyth (captain), Malan, Olivier, Pillans, Revis, Root, Shutt, Tattersall, Thompson, Wisniewski.

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James Mitchinson