Yardy oversees fresh start at Sussex
Mike Yardy faces the unenviable task of taking over the Sussex captaincy reins from Chris Adams, but admits it is time for the club to move on.
Adams resigned the captaincy at the end of last season, having steered Sussex to three LV= County Championship titles in five years, and then promptly quit playing to take up the role of professional cricket manager at Surrey.
Leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed also retired last summer and, though he will return to Hove in a coaching capacity this year, Sussex nevertheless have two huge roles to fill.
“We’ve lost several senior players over the last couple of years and things have to move on,” Yardy said. “And that’s what I’m trying to do.
“Chris Adams did fantastically well for us and we just have to take on board what he did. I’ve got my own ideas and I want to take the team where I want to take the team.
“We are going to have to play our cricket in a slightly different way. The squad we have is a very young squad and it is exciting to see people given the opportunity to come in and perform - and a lot of the guys took it.”
One of the young players who impressed on the pre-season tour of the United Arab Emirates was Joe Gatting, nephew of former Middlesex and England captain Mike, who made a century against Surrey in the last game of the tournament.
Yardy has high hopes for the young batsman, saying: “Joe has shown he has a fantastic temperament.
“I have only been around him for a couple of weeks now, but he has great hand-eye co-ordination and he is someone to look out for.
“There are plenty (of talented youngsters) in the dressing room, so it is an exciting time for us.”
Yardy, who takes over a team in transition, has plenty of captaincy experience with the England A and Lions teams in the past few years.
He admits his own England hopes are still in the back of his mind, but his priorities lie firmly with Sussex this year.
“At the moment I am totally focused on Sussex,” he confirmed. I am really enjoying my cricket.
“Of course I still have aspirations to play for England again, because I think I am like any other county cricketer out there. But I have to improve in certain areas.
“But at the forefront of my mind is Sussex, and playing well for Sussex.”
Yardy spent part of his winter playing club cricket in Perth, before travelling to the UAE with the rest of the squad for the Emirates Airline Pro ARCH Trophy.
“I did a bit of work with a few batting coaches out there just to get a few fresh ideas,” he added. “But it was nice to be back with the lads and we have had a really good week out here.
“The climate helps as well, with the heat. In competitive tournaments in England, sometimes the cold weather gets rid of the competitiveness.
“Having the four games out here really helps and it was nice to finish with a win.”
As for Yardy’s own aims for the season, it is a case of keeping things simple.
“I just think if you do your preparation and stick to your game plan, things will take care of themselves,” he said. “If I work hard and do the basics well, then I should have a good season.”