2007 in a nutshell:
Following the turmoil of the previous winter when Chris Adams joined and then left, Anthony McGrath left and then rejoined, and Jacques Rudolph came out of nowhere, the early season had a wonderful momentum to it and Yorkshire led the pack for much of the season. However, with the weather playing a part injuries forcing changes in an otherwise very settled team (eleven players played in ten games or more) at the end of the season, the team faded away. Still in with a shout of the title going into the last game, the eventual sixth place reflects how tight Division 1 was last season. In the shorter version of the game, Yorkshire somehow managed to get into the quarter finals of the 20:20, as Leicester had most of their games washed out. However, the One Day games were used more as a means of giving experience to the youngsters and resting older legs.
Both of the overseas players have gone and while both were good club men, neither had the impact that the team wanted. Jason Gillespie in particular was tight rather than threatening. However, with the position of Rana Naved still unclear as the overseas player, it may be down to the local talent to bowl teams out. Morne Morkel, who is touted to be the replacement if Naved doesn’t show up, isn’t anything like as threatening although he would undoubtedly strengthen the One Day side.
Chris Taylor has returned from Derbyshire, probably as a replacement for Craig White at the top of the order, who may concentrate on One Day cricket. However, it is the crop of youngsters coming through who will make or break the season for Yorkshire, with Andrew Gale, Adam Lyth, James Lee and Oliver Hannon Dalby looking to make their breakthrough this season.
Division 1 could be even tighter this year than last as Somerset and Notts look to be better teams than Warwicks and Worcester. However, I would still expect Yorks to be in the hunt on the last day of the season. In the one dayers, promotion may be a reasonable objective in the Pro 40.
This is probably the strength of the team. Last year, of the eleven players who played in ten games or more, only Gough and Hoggard didn’t score a century. With Tim Bresnan batting at eight, there is a long line up, which will be looking to capitalise on the Boycottesque qualities of Joe Sayers at the top of the order. McGrath and Rudolph will be looking to score heavily again and the Kolpak in particular has the ability to take the attack to the opposition at this level. Adil Rashid and Gerard Brophy will swap places at 6 and 7 respectively, leaving the number 5 spot open to one of the emerging batsmen – with Andrew Gale likely to get the first opportunity, although Adam Lyth and Greg Wood will also be pushing for the place. Oh and there’s some bloke called Michael Vaughan who may want the occasional game.
England’s dropping of Matthew Hoggard means that he should start the season in a mood to prove the selectors wrong and itching to get his test place back. This should help to kick-start the pace attack which otherwise would be reliant on the aging legs of Darren Gough and the 23 year old veteran Tim Bresnan. The loss of Rana Naved would be a huge blow, with Morkel being nothing like as threatening with the ball. However, Ajmal Shazad showed promise in the matches he played and in James Lee and Oliver Hannon Dalby, there are two bowlers of immense promise looking to make their breakthrough.
Yorkshire have more strength on the spinning front, with the highly rated Adil Rashid looking to kick on again after a successful Lions tour, and David Wainwright and Mark Lawson waiting in the wings. A dry summer could mean Yorkshire taking to the field with more specialist spinners than seamers, a far cry from the steady pace attack that used to frequent Headingly.
Chris Taylor (Michael Vaughan when available)
To win games, you need to take 20 wickets, so the key man has to be Adil Rashid. He topped the wicket takers last season with 40, despite the weather not being conducive to spin bowling. He was one of the few Lions to come out of the India trip in credit, out bowling Monty Panesar at times. He shouldn’t be needed by England this summer but should be looking to get the second spinners spot on the winter tour.
There are plenty of candidates for this including Greg Wood, the England U19 wicket keeper who is likely to be second in the pecking order should Brophy be injured. However, the rising star isn’t someone I have included him in my probable side, but the batsman likely to be the next in. Adam Lyth played for England U19 last season out scoring more established county players like Billy Godleman and Ben Wright, with a fluent century. He is highly rated at the club and should any of the top five struggle this season, he could make a big impact.
Captain and Coach
There’s not a lot to be said about the captain that hasn’t already been said. However, it is likely to be his last season and it would be unrealistic to expect him to play as much this year. Martyn Moxon was responsible for keeping Anthony McGrath at the club last winter and I’d expect a smooth transition from Gough to McGrath as the season progresses.