The spirit of Boycott stalks Headingley as Yorkshire go back to basics

Batting in four-day cricket has been a challenge - Moxon (2:40)

Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire's director of cricket, discusses how the team must get back to basics when it comes to batting in four-day cricket (2:40)

Yorkshire plan to revive the spirit of Geoffrey Boycott to try to address faltering Championship batting form that they believe stems from the negative impact of Twenty20 cricket.

They have not quite run to a life-size statue of their most formidable batsman, there are no trenchant Boycottian judgments playing from loudspeakers in the dressing room, nor compulsory videos on hand of his most famous defensive knocks.

But it may be only a matter of time.

Yorkshire's batting has faltered since their back-to-back Championship wins in 2014 and 2015 with the presence of their England duo Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow now a distant memory and those in possession, such as the talented opening pair, Adam Lyth and Alex Lees, afflicted by too many headstrong moments.

While Root, as England captain, and Bairstow often extol the virtues of a positive approach in Test cricket, the fact is that England have not won a Test all winter. Yorkshire are taking the opposite view: Dig In will be the watchword.

Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire's director of cricket, said: "As our one-day batting has improved, our four-day batting has declined. I think enough years have gone by now to say there is a relationship in that and a lot of it, for me, is mindset. This desire to dominate, hit boundaries, is carrying over from T20 and we are finding it harder and harder to separate that from our four-day attitude."

Whereas specialists are becoming more common at international level, such luxuries are rarely seen at county level where financial imperatives insist that players have to adapt. Playing the three formats largely in independent blocks was meant to help, but that has not been evident at Yorkshire.

"In the international game, there aren't many batters playing all three formats," Moxon said. "They are starting to specialise. But it is hard for us as countries because we can't afford to have, as things stand, different teams. We are asking the lads to play three formats of the game.

"I think with the right mentality it is possible to make that switch. But because of the proliferation of T20 competitions around the world, and the money available, sub-consciously at least, maybe even consciously, lads are wanting to be better at T20 than they are red-ball cricket. They see that as the dominant format of the game. The majority of their time is spent on T20 to the deteriment of their four-day skills."

Matters came to a head for Yorkshire after a dismal finish to last season when Essex, the Championship winners, thrashed them by 376 runs at Chelmsford, dismissing them for 111 and 74, the latter representing their lowest score this century. "As bad as I've seen," admitted their coach, Andrew Gale.

It remains to be seen whether Yorkshire can turn back the clock. But the squad, minus its international contingent, has been committed to a new approach since reporting back in November.

Gale, who is about to begin his second season as coach, said: "I'd say it's 90% mental to bat long periods of time. Obviously you need a good, solid technique to do that, but I see a bunch of batters at Yorkshire who are technically pretty good. What they need is the application and the mindset to bat long periods of time."

The message should be reinforced by the two overseas batsmen recruited by Yorkshire, the New Zealander Kane Williamson and India's Cheteshwar Pujara, both of whom have the aptitude to ride out tough passages of play. Mark Nesti, the sports psychologist best known for his work in Premier League football, has lso been more actively involved.

"You have to be prepared to bat for six or seven hours to make a massive dent on the game," said Gale. "It is not just people struggling at Yorkshire . You just had to watch the Ashes in the winter to know that."

Boycott, of course, had plenty to say about that with barely an England batsman escaping a verbal roasting by the end of the series. So is a new Boycottian era about to dawn in the county that he dominated for so long?

Moxon played the first dead-bat of the season, the first perhaps of many. "The intention is to win games of cricket. Geoffrey was a past master at scoring hundreds and that's what we lack at the moment," he said.