County previews April 8, 2013

Yorks hope to click again

The bowling has been strengthened but England call-ups could hurt Yorkshire as they look to build on an impressive 2012

Last year: 2nd (promoted), CC Div 2; Finalists, T20; 5th, CB40 Group C

2012 in a nutshell: The only side in either division to finish unbeaten in the Championship, Yorkshire won promotion back to Division One, reached the final of the FLt20 and saw another of their young players - Joe Root - progress into the England squad. It was not as straightforward as it sounds, though, with Yorkshire requiring a late run - they won their last three games - to break into the top two. Between May 12, when they completed the second largest run-chase in their history (400) to beat Gloucestershire, and August 31 they didn't win a game. Steve Patterson, not fast but tall and disciplined, led the way with the ball, with Adam Lyth, Jonny Bairstow and Anthony McGrath contributing with the bat. Their T20 campaign was boosted by the signing of Mitchell Starc (21 wickets at 10.38) and David Miller, who averaged 48.75 with the bat. Gerard Brophy and Oliver Hannon-Dalby were released at the end of the season; Ajmal Shahzad during it amid accusations that he was not committed to the team cause.

2013 prospects: Having failed to persuade James Harris to join them, Yorkshire underlined their desire to strengthen the bowling by signing Liam Plunkett and Jack Brooks. Both have a great deal to prove: Brooks has only taken 19 List A wickets in his whole career and claimed only 23 Championship wickets at 35.69 last year, while Plunkett's form deserted him so completely that he played just one Championship match for Durham in 2012. The batting has been weakened, with Anthony McGrath's retirement through injury and the possible absence of Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root, in particular, due to England commitments. The availability of Tim Bresnan remains unclear, too: if he is fully fit, Yorkshire may well lose him, but if he is unable to make a full recovery after his second elbow operation, they may see far more of him. In Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance and Phil Jaques they have some fine batsmen, but they will require more from Andrew Gale, Adil Rashid and Andrew Hodd if they are to survive at the higher level. The bowling still seems to lack a bit of pace, too, despite the two new signings.

Key player: Given only a slight twist of fate, it may have been Lyth, not Joe Root representing England this winter. Lyth, a naturally positive opener, can often appear the more eye-catching player but lost form horribly in 2011. He was back somewhere near his best in 2012 and, in averaging 53.64, ensured several good starts. Yorkshire will require similar success from his this year.

Bright young thing: Azeem Rafiq has the skill and the temperament to flourish. An aggressive offspinner, he can also bat and appears to thrive in the pressure situations that often separate the wheat from the chaff. Only 22, he has already captained the club and could be the sort of cricketer the side is built around for the next 10 years.

Captain/coach: Gale has impressed as captain, though he could do with contributing more with the bat after only passing 50 twice in the Championship last year. Jason Gillespie is quickly gaining a good reputation as head coach, while Martyn Moxon remains as director of cricket.

ESPNcricinfo verdict: There is just a hint of desperation about the new signings and a concern that the absences in the batting order could weaken them severely. Avoiding relegation should be considered a successful season.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • paul on April 8, 2013, 18:52 GMT

    Don't really agree with the desperation comment, although we didn't get Harris, I like the signing of Brooks, who's exactly the kind of player you want at this level, just under the England radar. Plunkett might have lost form at Durham in 2012 but under Dizzy I reckon he can get back to his best, ateotd he's taken 327 wickets @ 31, so he's obviously good enough and he's still only 28. We let Shahzad and Hannon-Dalby move on so we had to make moves and imo Brooks and Plunkett as a pair are better bowlers than the two we let go. So an attack of Siddy, Patterson, Ashraf with Brooks and Plunkett with also Bresnan when fit, make a decent bowling attack. Obviously lots will depend on how many players we lose to England etc but personally I'd be disappointed to be fighting relegation. Look forward to seeing how young Alex Lees gets on this season, rated highly & tons of talent. Can't wait now.

  • GeoffreysMother on April 8, 2013, 18:39 GMT

    New signings not quite as desperate at Surrey's! Indeed two talented players with something to prove might just be as successful as Warwickshire's desperate signing of Clarke, Wright and Chopra! If all the talent delivers they have a good chance of winning the Championship (they almost did two years ago with a similar but younger side), if it doesn't, then yes, relegation is a possibility. You are also right George that England (and as crucial England A) call ups could make a huge difference. I think they will be up there with Warwickshire, Notts and Somerset.

  • Dummy4 on April 8, 2013, 18:37 GMT

    I think it's very harsh to call the signings desperation at all - both signings (Brooks and Plunkett) show experience and potential, matched by Sidebottom, as well as Patterson. There seems to be good depth to the bowling. I do agree with your views on the batting, once we get beyond the first team, then we only have youth to fall back on. But in Alex Lees and Jack Leaning, we have youth and talent (Lees scored a century in the University match) , which has not been missed by the Yorkshire faithful. Having Joe Root for the early season will be a big boost, and I think your prediction of ''avoiding relegation would be a success'', as a bit harsh. Not yet title winning potential, but mid-table is definitely not out of reach.

  • Dummy4 on April 8, 2013, 18:31 GMT

    guarantee that we'll get knacked over by England call ups this year, just hope the weather isn't as harsh on us as it was last year when it cost us nearly half the possible overs of the season!