Yorkshire’s season represents almost the dictionary defined version of middling. 4th in the County Championship, semi-finalists in the Royal London One Day Cup, and an Alex Hales-inspired run chase away from the Natwest T20 Blast quarter finals; things could have been a lot worse. There is however, an awful lot of work to be done between now and next spring if Andrew Gale’s side are to go on and compete for titles and higher honours next term.
In the County Championship, Yorkshire won five, lost the same number and drew the remaining four of their fixtures. Their senior players never quite produced the required performances to lift them further up the table and challenge Somerset and Surrey, but on the other hand they had easily enough quality in their ranks to avoid being drawn into the relegation battle.
The bonus points allocated show that their batting was stronger than their bowling; 25 batting bonus points was the fourth highest in the table, but the figure of only 33 bowling bonus points was out on its own as the fewest in the division. What’s worse when looking at that side of things is that three of the highest wicket-takers are veterans of the squad, with one of them (Jack Brooks) having joined Somerset for the new season.
The fact that Liam Plunkett, David Willey and Matt Fisher only made a handful of appearances between them all season did not help matters. The remaining ever-presents, Tim Bresnan and Steven Patterson, will look to Ben Coad next season to shoulder some of the burden. Coad is already an England Lion, and will be hoping that his nibbling seamers will land another large bag of wickets next year and therefore help him launch his claim for higher honours. With Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad slowly coming to the final parts of their Test careers, young seamers across the country all have a definite chance to impress.
In terms of the batting, Yorkshire somehow managed to muddle through without any of their premier players having particularly good seasons. Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance and young Harry Brook were the mainstays of their Championship top order throughout the season, but they could only average 27, 39 and 25 respectively.
Alex Lees, once hailed as the eventual successor to Alastair Cook in opening the batting for England, averaged 6.25 from eight innings and spent the latter part of the season at Durham (he’ll join them permanently next year).
The international players such as Jonny Bairstow and Kane Williamson impressed on the odd occasions they were there, but Yorkshire cannot be relying on them for many of their runs next year. The one stand out was Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who finally showed his promise in the four-day game, averaging 46 from 11 innings, including two centuries. He will surely play more than four County Championship games in 2019.
Their limited overs campaigns did offer Yorkshire plenty of encouragement at first, especially their fortunes in the Royal London One Day Cup. The Yorkies lost only one of their group matches, and beat Essex in a thriller in the quarter final.
They were eventually undone in the semi by Hampshire, and as the latter went on to lift the cup that is no disgrace at all. Kohler-Cadmore again impressed in this format, and in fact it was his performances in the 50-over stuff in the early part of the summer that brought him into the reckoning for a spot in the four-day team later in the year. He is another one who England will be keeping an eye on – not that they have a deficit of talented ODI batsmen currently!
It was a similar case of so near and yet so far in the T20 Blast, where inconsistent performances left them needing to win their final group game, against Nottinghamshire at Headingley, to progress. They fell a long way short in the end, Alex Hales and Tom Moores chasing down a sub-par total with ease and taking the midlands side into the quarters. Their overall final record-winning seven and losing seven of their 14 fixtures, indicates crippling inconsistency. The county has improved significantly and taken plenty of encouraging strides forward in the game’s shortest format this year, but there still remains work to be done ahead of next season.
SSCC: 4th, Division One
Vitality Blast: Group Stage – 5th, North Group
RLODC: Semi Finals, lost to Hampshire
SSCC: Gary Ballance, 906 runs
Vitality Blast: Adam Lyth, 401 runs
RLODC: Tom Kohler-Cadmore, 472 runs
SSCC: Jack Brooks, 51
Natwest T20 Blast: Stephen Patterson, 12
RLODC: Adil Rashid, 14
Player of the season:
While Jack Brooks deserves an honourable mention for sometimes single-handedly carrying Yorkshire’s four-day bowling throughout the season, Tom Kohler-Cadmore just pips him on this occasion. The ex-Worcestershire player first showed his immense promise for his new county in the RLODC, smacking 164 against Durham and averaging 52 in the tournament. His T20 form was also decent, and in the County Championship he was hugely impressive, having only been brought into the team halfway through the season.
A place at the top of the order in all formats is surely his to lose now, although Yorkshire have eased him into the four-day stuff so far by putting him in the middle order. He will be an integral part of the hierarchy’s plans for 2019.
Jonathan Tattersall or Harry Brook are vying for this category, and Tattersall just edges it. He proved a solid and dependable citizen behind the stumps, and also bolstered the batting on several occasions when top order collapses had left Yorkshire in danger of embarrassing totals. Averaging the best part of 32, mostly from number six and in your first full season, is no mean feat.
With Bairstow likely to be absent for most (if not all) the summer next year, the young wicket keeper will no doubt have a full season to further impress (Andy Hodd’s retirement will also help in that respect).
Could have done better:
Quite a few players to choose from for this dubious award! If we limit this to players who will be here next year (Alex Lees and Cheteshwar Pujara obviously had miserable seasons for the most part, but it’s unlikely either will be here next spring), it probably has to go to Adam Lyth. The left-handed opener really needed to score a bucket load of runs bearing in mind the relative fragility and inexperience of the batsmen around him, and averaging 27 in the Championship represents a failure on that basis.
There are obvious mitigating circumstances – not many openers found it easy this summer – but they still needed a bit more from one of their senior players. He’ll need a better year in 2019 if Yorkshire are to progress their four-day game.
Need to work on:
Getting a stable batting order would be a good place to start. Working out who accompanies Lyth at the top of the order, which players should make up the middle order, and where Kohler-Cadmore should bat are all questions that need to be answered. The pace bowling also represents an issue in that their best performers are yet again those who are coming to the end of their careers. They need more next season from Matt Fisher and David Willey to name but two.
There have been a fair few departures, with five players having left the club so far. Alex Lees, Jack Brooks and Liam Plunkett have all moved on to pastures new, while the ever-dependable Andy Hodd has retired and Azeem Rafiq has been released. In to the fold have come leg-spinner Josh Poysden from Warwickshire, Mathew Pillans from Surrey (no doubt in an effort to take Plunkett’s place in the limited overs bowling stocks), and talented young batsman Will Fraine has joined after a year at Notts.
A hard season to judge really. While not many players can be said to have truly enhanced their potential and performed to the maximum, Yorkshire have had three reasonable finishes, and will no doubt have pleased the hierarchy by making real strides in the limited-overs formats. The supporters will of course expect a better performance in the County Championship next season however, and that will represent a sizeable challenge.
Season Rating – 6.5