It has been an unusually quiet off-season at Headingley. If the off field stability transfers onto the pitch, it could be a season to remember.
2008 in a Nutshell
Yorkshire scored more batting points than anyone else, despite playing most of the season with only four specialist batsmen. However, an inability to take the first innings form into the second innings was Yorkshire’s basic problem. The season wasn’t helped by a never ending stream of injured pace bowlers or the weather which curtailed some promising situations while also partially negating the effect of Adil Rashid.
Top of the table at the 20:Twenty break, and still in with a shout of honours with three games to go, Yorkshire went into the last match in the relegation places, although a winning draw made sure of their continuing Division 1 status.
On the limited overs front, the 20:Twenty debacle was the lowlight of the season. Promotion to Division 1 of the Pro 40 was one of the highlights. Getting to the semi-final of the FP Trophy was a bonus and Essex were by far and away the better team on the day.
I hate myself for saying this, but I think Yorkshire are the team to beat in the Championship this season. The batting line up looks longer than last season, with Michael Vaughan having plenty to prove to the England selectors, while Andrew Gale and Adam Lyth will be looking to play themselves onto a tour next winter. Joe Sayers seems to have regained some form over the winter and will be challenging the other batsmen for a place. With Tim Bresnan likely to come in at 8, runs should not be a problem. The position of 4th seamer is up for grabs with Amjal Shahzad and Steve Patterson battling it out. David Wainwright will come into the team when spin becomes a weapon, and he scored a Championship century from number 10 last season.
Likely Championship team
The team looks to be on an upward curve with limited overs cricket too, although Division 1 of the Pro 40 will be much tougher than Division 2 last season. However, the knock out stages of the FP Trophy and the 20:Twenty should be the target.
Probably the same as last year in that Adil Rashid is most likely to bowl teams out. He had a slow start to the season last year, but still ended up with 62 wickets. He will also need to improve with the bat as he averaged just 23, despite a century in the last match of the season. The emergence of Graeme Swann as an International spinner means that Rashid should not be required by England this summer. However, his time is coming and Yorkshire will be hoping for as much as possible from him.
I was tempted to go with last year’s choice again, as Adam Lyth made his breakthrough last season and aged just 21 has a bright future ahead of him. However, of those looking to make a breakthrough this season, my choice is Jonathan Bairstow. With Simon Guy recovering from brain surgery and Greg Wood being released, Bairstow (son of David) is the second choice wicketkeeper and a very talented batsman, winning the Wisden school cricketer of the year award last year. Expect to see him feature in some limited over cricket and if Gerard Brophy doesn’t recapture his form of a couple of years ago, this could be his year.
Coach and Captain
Antony McGrath officially takes the reins this season, although as Darren Gough only managed to play half of last season, the transformation has been gradual. Martyn Moxen is the reason that Mags stayed at Yorkshire and the two of them have a close bond.