White Rose in bloom
Posted in Domestic Cricket
These are good times for Yorkshiremen.
Thanks to Joe Root's performances for England’s Test side, the White Rose county is being heralded as the source of one of the country's finest cricketing prospects.
Furthermore, with the inclusion of Root's fellow middle-order colleague Jonny Bairstow, and Tim Bresnan, in the 12-man squad to face New Zealand, Yorkshire can boast the largest representation of the current England contingent.
Bairstow and Bresnan bolster the sense of pride felt by their fellow Yorkshire folk, but it is two former England internationals who are helping the county ascend to the pinnacle of the county game.
It has been two years since recently-recruited Liam Plunkett wore the three lions and a further two years since all-rounder Adil Rashid made his last international appearance. But the pair have been central to a hugely impressive start in Yorkshire's return to LV= County Championship Division One.
It was Plunkett's old side, Durham, who relegated a Yorkshire team in 2011 that won just three games all season.
Enjoying life back in the top tier after last year's promotion, Andrew Gale's men have already equalled that victory tally, only five games into their championship campaign.
Present levels of optimism would have been inconceivable following their thumping defeat to Sussex in the opening round of fixtures, however.
Skittled for 96 in their first innings, with Bairstow's meagre 29 their top score, Yorkshire's first match of the season certainly did not go to plan, ending in a loss by an innings.
A change in the tides occurred at the Emirates Durham ICG, where their fourth-largest run-chase in their history saw Gale's men to a stunning four-wicket win.
Root rightly took the plaudits for his match-winning 182, a sensational innings of impeccable judgement and unflinching concentration, yet the seeds of future prosperity were sown in Rashid's unbeaten half-century.
The 25-year-old came to crease with the visitors five wickets down, still needing 102 for victory, yet seven fours and 90 minutes later, Rashid was celebrating a historic win with his jubilant team-mates.
In their next game, an innings-victory against Derbyshire, Root was once more in the headlines after striking a career-best 236.
This time, though, further down the page, the important contribution made by Plunkett emerges. With a draw seemingly on the cards, the 28-year-old seamer ousted first-innings double-centurion Chesney Hughes before capturing the prized wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul to sprout the shoots of opportunity which were seized so emphatically by Jack Brooks.
Since those two triumphs, Rashid has gone on to hit two centuries, including a personal best of 180 against Somerset, while Plunkett unleashed his best bowling performance in nearly four years against reigning champions Warwickshire.
The duo's current form combined wonderfully to momentarily send their side to the top of the table with their innings victory at Edgbaston, their third win in four games.
Buoyed by promotion and an exhilarating journey to the Friends Life t20 final and subsequent Champions League T20 last year, the Headingley side, under the tutelage of Jason Gillespie, have continued to build significant momentum.
As Root and Bairstow forge their places in the national side, it is two of England's forgotten men who are leading Yorkshire's current rise to the summit.