Wednesday, 8 October 2008

2008 Season Review: Yorkshire

Final Placings

Championship – 6th
FP Trophy – Semi-finals (walloped by Essex)
Pro40 – 2nd in Division 2
20Twenty – Thrown out of the quarter finals

A frankly bizarre season, even in relation to what has happened in the past couple of years. Had the Championship been a single innings competition, Yorks would have won it by a country mile. The strength was supposed to be in the bowling, yet Yorks finished with more batting points than anyone else. Even so, they were only topped by Hampshire on the bowling point front. However, when it came to the second innings, the aging seem attack were impotent and the plan seemed to be throw the ball to Rashid and see what he can do.

A remarkable run of injuries also hampered matters on the seem bowling front. During the first half of the season, Rana Naved, Morne Morkel, Darren Gough, Matthew Hoggard, Dion Kruis and Amjal Shahzad were all injured. This led to a debut for the promising Oliver Hannon-Dalby, but for most of the first half of the season, the bowling was carried by Tim Bresnan, especially as Adil Rashid was struggling for form.

Despite the injuries, Yorkshire topped the table at the 20Twenty break. However a mixture of poor weather and appalling 2nd innings performances – notably against Kent, where the teams were tied after the first innings and Kent ran out 10 wicket victors, meant that there was not another win in the Championship. The best performances came when the likes of Gough, Kruis and Naved were unavailable which augers well for the future.

Batting-wise, Yorks often went into matches with just four specialist batsmen, with the likes of Gerald Brophy, Rashid and Bresnan going in at 5, 6 and 7. The bonus point situation shows that this tactic had some merit as Jacques Rudolph, Andrew Gale, Antony McGrath and Adam Lyth all contributed well, despite none of them being specialist opening batsmen. Rudolph has taken the headlines, but it is the transformation of Gale from promising youngster to regular which has pleased the Yorkshire faithful most. Less pleasing is the transformation of Joe Sayers from gritty opener to walking wicket and hopefully he can recover his game over the winter.

There was much more success on the limited over front. Despite his aging years, Gough is still one of the canniest One Day bowlers around and has passed much of his experience onto Bresnan, who was rewarded with an England recall. Rudolph and McGrath in particular showed the benefits of building an innings, although this fell apart in the FP Trophy semi final, which saw the worst limited over performance of the season. Promotion to Division 1 for the final season of the Pro40 was merited and this competition saw the best of Rana Naved, particularly with the bat.

The 20Twenty farce has been done to death. However, it is worth repeating that it seems bizarre that Azeem Rafiq was eligible to play for England schools, but not Yorkshire. An administrative cock-up by Yorkshire, dealt with very poorly by the ECB.

2009 will see a new captain, with Jacques Rudolph having put his hand up for the job. A hopefully refreshed Michael Vaughan will be looking to score big runs to get back into the England team, taking the pressure off the current four batsmen. Yorkshire nearly got relegated this season despite being on top of many of their games. It won’t take a big shift to be challenging at the top of the table again.

Player of the Season
Rudolph and Rashid have taken all of the headlines. However, for his contribution throughout the season, the Player of the Season has to be Tim Bresnan. He’s only 23 but has been around for years and has become the on-field leader that everyone hoped he would. He scored less runs and took less wickets than Rashid, but he held the team together as all around him fast bowlers dropped like flies.

Most Disappointing Player
Rana Naved was supposed to create a cutting edge, but ended up with just 16 wickets at nearly 40. Yorkshire looked a better team when he wasn’t playing and Steve Patterson was.

The win against Somerset was a brilliant team effort. Also days 2 and 3 in the last game which saw Rashid and David Wainwright score tons before Sussex were forced to follow on, securing safety. The same eleven players played in both games, with Naved and Gough among those missing.

From a personnel point of view, the emergence of Adam Lyth and Andy Gale, who along with Bresnan and Rashid give a young Yorkshire spine to the team.

The FP Trophy semi-final was disappointing, but we didn’t play well enough and got what we deserved.

More disappointing was the 20Twenty - Rafiq farce, which robbed Gough of a fitting climax and has wrecked the confidence of a promising young player who was blameless in the whole affair.


Tim said...

Great stuff Richard - Rudolph looks like being your next Lehmann!

Chrispy said...

Great batting performances in first innings, but the bowling was a let down, especially when so much talent is on the books. Thought they would be closer to the top, but like you say, they haven't got to add much to be up there challenging. Nice to see lots of youngsters coming through!

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