Yorkshire fail to meet expectations
Posted in Domestic Cricket
After an impressive season in 2010, Yorkshire were deemed to be one of the favourites to claim the LV= County Championship this term.
Instead, things could not have gone much worse for captain Andrew Gale and his young team.
The loss of experienced South African Jacques Rudolph until his late return, mixed with a string of inconsistent performances, including various batting collapses throughout the campaign, saw them slide down the table and eventually relegated in the final week of the season.
To make matters worse for the White Rose, there was nothing of any note to cheer in other formats after they failed to advance from the group stages of both the Friends Life t20 and Clydesdale Bank 40.
Things could have been different if Gale’s side had performed for the full four days of matches rather than just showing glimpses of their potential. There were five games that defined the difficult season and denied Yorkshire the chance of playing Division One cricket in 2012.
Chasing 140 to beat Nottinghamshire at Headingley Carnegie, Yorkshire were ripped apart by the defending champions’ experienced bowling attack and, after showing their inexperience and nerves, were skittled for a mere 80.
Rain prevented a win against Hampshire on home soil as they fell just two wickets short on the final evening and, towards the end of the season, were denied the chance of defeating fellow strugglers Sussex after running out of overs, just 31 short of their victory target of 343.
The loss of captain Gale to a broken arm towards the end of the campaign added injury to insult and capped off a miserable season for the young Yorkshiremen.
Despite relegation, Yorkshire have had various players that have performed well on a regular basis, which bodes well for the future.
Yorkshire’s financial constraints denied coach Martyn Moxon the chance to bring in an experienced overseas player, which mounted enormous pressure on the club’s promising youngsters.
However, the emerging talent at Headingley Carnegie performed admirably in their maiden season of first-team cricket, and it was the county’s senior players that failed to step up to the plate on a regular basis.
Young batsmen Joe Root and Gary Ballance were both given chances after impressive pre-seasons and never looked out of place in the side, with the former’s showings at the top of the order earning him 937 championship runs and an England Lions call-up.
Former Derbyshire batsman Ballance showed his potential in all formats with the Zimbabwe-born left-hander playing some crucial innings in the middle order to either get Yorkshire over the line or thrust them towards a competitive total with some lusty blows.
Add that to Jonathan Bairstow’s outstanding performances, which saw him make his senior England debut and named the Cricket Writers' Club Young Cricketer of the Year, and Yorkshire’s batting will look strong in the second tier with the likes of Gale, Joe Sayers, Anthony McGrath and Adam Lyth all getting another crack of the whip despite relegation.
York-born Bairstow passed 1,000 runs in just 13 matches that were pleasantly disrupted due to England Lions call-ups, and his first full season, which included an excellent 205 against a very good Notts pace attack, underlined his credentials as an emerging domestic and international top-order batsman.
The return of Ryan Sidebottom was a huge boost for the side and his haul of 62 championship wickets shows he still has the desire, commitment and class to perform in the longest format of the domestic game.
Relegation has given the players a huge reality check and shown that nothing should be taken for granted in cricket.
Life in Division Two will be difficult, but it maybe the perfect chance for Gale’s young side to regain confidence and a winning mentality which should stand them in good stead when they eventually return to the top flight.