Yorkshire set to get serious for one-day opener

YORKSHIRE chief executive Stewart Regan has issued a defiant statement of intent ahead of tomorrow's Clydesdale Bank 40 opener at Essex, insisting: "We are taking this seriously – this is a competition we can win."

The White Rose county conclude their third successive County Championship game at Canterbury today against Kent, and will turn their attentions to one-day cricket tomorrow afternoon at Chelmsford (1.45pm).

Captain Andrew Gale will be without Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad, who are away on Twenty20 World Cup duty, for the opener but will be able to call upon the services of Tino Best, the West Indian who arrived as Yorkshire's overseas player earlier in the week.

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"Tino Best will go straight into the team to replace either Tim or Ajmal," Regan told the Yorkshire Post.

"We are looking to select players for this competition who have a proven track record in one-day cricket – it won't be all about blooding some younger players.

"Gerard Brophy, for example, has produced some excellent one-day performances for Yorkshire, and I am sure he will be challenging Jonathan Bairstow for the wicketkeeper's spot. And players like Richard Pyrah, who are good one-day cricketers, will come into contention for one-day games.

"We will play the best team available to us at any given time, depending on which format of the game we are playing in. I believe one-day cricket represents our strongest chance of bringing some silverware to Headingley this season."

Regan also revealed that Yorkshire, who have already signed South African batsman Herschelle Gibbs as an overseas player specifically for the Twenty20 Cup, may soon announce the capture of another one-day specialist.

"That's the way cricket is going now: there are a lot of players specialising in one format of the game," Regan said.

"We are looking to sign another specialist one-day player, which will hopefully be announced in the coming weeks.

"Any player we bring in will come from overseas, and will compliment the players we already have here. It is a strong signal that Yorkshire are taking one-day cricket seriously this season, and I think we have a good chance."

The Clydesdale Bank 40 is English cricket's newest competition, replacing both the Friends Provident Trophy and the NatWest Pro40 League. The 18 first-class counties are joined by the Netherlands, the Scottish Saltires and 'the Unicorns', a recreational team made up of players without first-class contracts.

The 21 teams are divided into three groups of seven, with the group winners and best second-placed team progressing to the semi-finals.

"It'll be interesting to see how it pans out," Regan said. "The structure has thrown up a couple of anomalies, such as us playing away in the Netherlands on Yorkshire Day (August 1).

"When the ECB consulted the counties about the new format, we were still one of the clubs who preferred the old 50-over format, because international one-day cricket is still played over 50 overs.

"I'm not a fan of the recreational XI: I think that has devalued the competition slightly, and I'd have preferred to have seen another country in there because these aren't high-profile players.

"We believe that county cricket should mirror the international game as much as possible, but the decision was taken to go with 40 overs. However, we're fully behind it and we're looking to be as successful as possible in it."

Regan remains convinced that Gale, who became Yorkshire's youngest captain in over 75 years when he took over the job from Anthony McGrath in the summer, possesses all the required attributes to lead the county. Aged just 26, Gale led his young Tykes side to two victories in their opening two County Championship games – and will be relishing the prospect of applying his aggressive captaincy style on the one-day game.

"Andrew has done very well so far – he's a captain who uses aggression and risk, and encourages good, attacking cricket," said Regan.

"The lads have seen a difference. For example, on the final day at Warwickshire (Yorkshire's first County Championship game). Gale and Jacques Rudolph told them that the match could go two ways: they could try and play for a draw and get bowled out, or play attacking cricket and try to force a result.

"As it happened, Bairstow and Rudolph saw us home (scoring 153 in just 27 overs), proving that taking risks is not always a bad thing."

They may be forced to take another, when Bresnan and Shahzad travel to the West Indies for the Twenty20 World Cup.

"In an ideal world, you wouldn't lose your two strike bowlers at the same time, but that's cricket," Regan added.

"We've been very pleased with the likes of Oliver Hannon-Dalby, and this gives an opportunity for another youngster to come in. Tino's arrival fills one place, but there's still one up for grabs – so maybe someone like James Lee or Ben Sanderson can take their chance.

"Time will tell."