Yorkshire striving for better T20 Blast season

Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie has been working in Australia to improve his white ball game coaching. 
Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie has been working in Australia to improve his white ball game coaching. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Yorkshire Vikings will come out fighting when they open their NatWest T20 Blast campaign against Leicestershire Foxes at Headingley next Friday.

But the battle plan which they have drawn up during the winter will be subject to revision during the early stages of the competition because of injuries to key players, notably David Willey and Matthew Fisher.

Nevertheless, the Foxes visit promises to be a thrilling curtain-raiser with last summer’s nail-biting tie between the sides at Grace Road still fresh in the memory of all who played in the match or followed the action.

It was the only tie of the season in either North or South Group and it came about when Ben Raine pinned Adil Rashid lbw with the last ball of the game with the scores level on 142.

For both sides, however, their overall performances in the Blast last season are best forgotten becauseYorkshire finished next to the bottom of North Group andLeicestershire level on points, only one place above them.

Apart from their T20 form, Yorkshire enjoyed a dream season in 2015, regaining the County Championship title and reaching the semi-finals of the Royal London 50-over Cup.

But for coach, Jason Gillespie, and all Club officials, the T20 lapse was seen as unacceptable and something which they are determined will not be repeated.

Mark Arthur, Yorkshire’s chief executive, said: “For the last two years our performances in the T20 Blast have been very poor. We set a benchmark for the club to get at least to the quarter-final stages and not doing that has been a major disappointment.

“We agreed to letting Jason Gillespie go as coach to Adelaide Strikers for last winter’s Big Bash in order to improve his coaching skills in the white ball game and Richard Pyrah, now on our coaching staff, joined him out there.

“The appointment of Alex Lees as our one-day captain also brought a new dimension and approach to white ball cricket and it has been agreed that our bowling line-up will be younger and more specialist..”

Arthur said improvement in Yorkshire’s one-day performances was important for several reasons.

“Because of the introduction of floodlights last season, our attendances under lights were up by 38 per cent and if we win a few games then that figure should increase rapidly. Also, success will help to attract a new younger audience engaged with the T20 format and it is the youngsters who are the future of the Club.”

Injuries to key fast bowlers have plagued Yorkshire in the early part of this season with Ryan Sidebottom managing only one-and-a-bit Championship matches before suffering a serious ankle injury and with Tim Bresnan still to make a senior appearance after tearing a calf muscle on the pre-season tour.But he should be fit by the end of next week.