After the surprising turnaround in fortunes last winter, from the depths of Chris Adams coming and going, Michael Lumb leaving and Antony McGrath trying to walk out, to the return of Darren Gough and Martyn Moxon persuading McGrath to stay and Jacques Rudolph to join, most Yorkshire fans were quietly optimistic about the new season. Certainly in Rudolph and Younus Khan, there was the potential for big runs from the middle order.
Also, with the strange set up to the English summer and the domination of the World Cup at the start of the season, Matthew Hoggard was available for a much greater chunk of Yorkshire’s games than he had been previously. This meant that the three main strike bowlers – Gough, Hoggard and Jason Gillespie could boast well over 700 test wickets between them. Backed up by England Lions tourists, Tim Bresnan and Adil Rashid, this looked to be a deep batting line-up and a useful bowling attack.
Indeed, consistency was a key to the season. In the Championship, eleven players played in at least ten of the matches, with only Hoggard and Gough not going on to make a century during the season. However, only Jacques Rudolph scored over 1000 runs for the season. Of the five main bowlers, all took more than 20, but no-one got more than 40. Therefore, while Yorkshire were missing a Ramprakash or Di Venuto with the bat, or a Gibson or Mushtaq with the ball, the effort was very much a team one and the make up of young talent (Joe Sayers, Rashid and Bresnan), old pros (Craig White, Gough and Gillespie) and established stars (McGrath, Younus, Rudolph and Hoggard) is a good mix to move the county onwards.
Overall, Yorkshire still finished in the same place as last year. However, the journey was very different and there is huge promise for next season
In the One Dayers, consistency certainly wasn’t the watch-word. Yorks didn’t threaten promotion in the Pro 40 nor look like qualifying from the Friends Provident. Reaching the quarter-finals of the 20:20 was a shock and probably more a feature of the weather.
Highlights of the season
Essentially the first half of the season showed Yorkshire playing to a successful formula. Joe Sayers, in particular, would set a platform for the more explosive middle order to build upon and with Bresnan coming in at 8, the team batted a long way down. This would then set the platform for bowling the opposition out twice. Starting by winning three of the first four championship matches, Yorkshire were comfortably top of the table, and stayed there or there abouts up to the penultimate week.
The Champioship showdown with Sussex was a huge disappointment. The loss of form of Sayers and White, Younus and Gillespie being called back to International duty and Gough pulling out injured at the start of the game meant that much of the consistency had gone from the team. Inzamam looked to be a good replacement, but didn’t get to grips with the situation. Michael Vaughan seemed in holiday mode after a tough test series and even at the time, the selection of Imran Tahir made no sense to anyone. The only positive out of the game was another 50 for Andy Gale, who will have a bigger part to play in the team next season.
Joe Sayers - a breakthrough season for the Limpet. Reminiscent in so many ways of Geoff Boycott, he was the platform around whom the rest of the batsmen played. His aim now has to be to do it for the whole season 7
Craig White – Once a bowling all-rounder, now an opening batsman. Next season is likely to be Chalky’s last and he will probably see less and less action in the Championship. A great servant over the years, but a poor season by his standards 5
Antony McGrath – From want-away to vice-captain, a fine season after a slow start, although Mags will be disappointed at just missing out on 1000 runs 6
Younus Khan – The big scores were expected, the leg-spin bowling wasn’t. Almost single-handedly forced a win against Sussex at the start of the season which would have had a huge impact at the end. A real team man who seems rejuvenated by his season if his recent performances for Pakistan are anything to go by 7
Jacques Rudolph – A controversial signing, but just the type of Kolpak player that should be coming over as he raised the standard of those around him. Solid if not spectacular, he was the stand out one-day player as well as top scoring in the Championship 8
Gerard Brophy – A huge improvement after a disappointing 2006. Useful runs and solid behing the stumps. Also an effective pinch-hitter in the limited over stuff 6
Adil Rashid – Following his break-though with the ball last season, this year he showed he could bat as well, scoring nearly 800 runs and still finished up as the leading wicket taker. His bowling tailed off as pitches became less spin friendly following the rains, and the emergence of Graeme Swann should put back any international call-ups for the time being. However, it was another season than showed more than just promise. 8
Tim Bresnan – Over 500 runs at nearly 40 with the bat plus a century for the England Lions and 34 wickets at 32 with the ball adds up to another excellent season for Brez, who despite having been around for ages is still only 22. On the fringes of the England One Day squad, next season could be a big one for him 7
Jason Gillespie –He created a lot of pressure for his fellow bowlers but only 23 wickets during the season is a disappointing return for the overseas bowler 5
Matthew Hoggard – Started the season like a train and was a big factor in Yorkshire’s flying start to the season. Less effective when he returned after teh test matches, he's still England’s best bowler and good to have around when fit and firing. 6
Darren Gough – The expectations were for the occasional glory day, plenty of missed matches and reminiscence about how good he was first time round. In reality, he took two 6-fers and 37 wickets at just 23, while only missing two games. His captaincy was almost as good as he said it would be and he has to take a lot of credit for turning the club around 7
Michael Vaughan played in 6 matches, but was a waste of a place after the test series had finished, when he probably needed to rest.
Deon Kruis played when Hoggy didn’t and only managed 8 wickets in 6 matches
Amjad Shahzad was the next quick bowler in an turned in some promising performances. He is likely to feature more next season
Andy Gale played five games but was a One Day regular. Again he’s likey to feature more next season, with his fifty against Sussex showing what we can expect.
Player of the Season
Tricky. As I said at the top, it’s currently a team without stars and the contribution came from everyone. Runner up is Jacques Rudolph, who showed that there would be runs without Darren Lehman. However, the winner is Adil Rashid for his all round effort.