Yorkshire will look back on a largely forgettable 2019, where they failed to mount a genuine challenge in any of the three formats.
Supporters may console themselves that towards the end of the season the Tykes were in third spot in the Specsavers County Championship, with a chance of taking the title.
In truth, however, that chance was little more than theoretical. They played a mediocre game and finished a mediocre fifth in Division One. If the Yorkshire faithful considered their side a “dark horse”, few others did.
Yorkshire’s white ball game seemed to go backwards. While they may have equalled last year’s finishing spot in the Vitality Blast, they sat on the bottom of the North group table before a couple of victories – coupled with the unpredictable nature of T20 cricket – shot them up the table. In the Royal London One-Day Cup – a competition Yorkshire has long struggled with – they finished in sixth spot, one place lower than last season.
The pressure of white-ball cricket got to the side in both competitions. They would have dominant periods in games but then the pressure would tell and it would unravel. While the weather was also a factor in their tournament, too many times Yorkshire lost games they should have won.
In fairness, such issues are probably typical of a young and inexperienced side, as Yorkshire is. Andrew Gale seems to have been on a mission to push forward young, local players. It’s not an un-noble idea, but it doesn’t get results overnight.
Certainly the older players – Gary Ballance and Adam Lyth – were central to the batting line up and can be great role models to the younger men, but the side clearly needs something more. If next year is going to be better, they will surely need another couple of batsmen with experience and maybe another spin option.
SSCC – 5th Division One
RLODC – 6th North group
Vitality Blast – 5th North group
Leading run scorers
SSCC: Gary Ballance 975
RLODC: Gary Ballance 294
Vitality Blast: Tom Kohler-Cadmore 435
Leading wicket takers
SSCC: Duane Oliver – 43
RLODC: Matt Pillans – 16
Vitality Blast: Adam Lyth 12
Player of the season
After finishing the 2018 season with a bang – making 198 against Worcestershire in the final Championship match – Gary Ballance continued his form in to season 2019, starting with four centuries in a row in the Championship. He was one of the few players to make any impact for the side this season.
Ballance is Yorkshire to the core, having been with the White Rose county for a decade. Always a key figure in the Yorkshire side, this year was no different. The left-hander made 1331 runs across all three formats and finished the year as the second top run-scorer in Division One with 975 runs.
In May 2019, Harry Brook was dropped. The beginning of the Championship season had not been good and rumour has it that he himself suggested to the coaching team that he be benched.
In July, he returned to the side and immediately made himself known.
At just 20 years old, he made his first Championship century against Somerset at Headingley. His 101, alongside Tom Kohler-Cadmore’s 102 and Ballance’s 111, got the visitors through one of their toughest days of the season and culminated in a home victory for the White Rose.
Earlier in the year, Brook had also made 103 in the One-Day Cup against Leicestershire. Brook may be young, but he bats with confidence and an aggression that suggests he has a positive future.
Need to work on
Consistency in white-ball cricket. Yorkshire’s young players need to learn to deal with the pressure of the shorter formats and make winning close games a habit. Recruitment of one or two more experienced players would help, as would a quality overseas signing for the Blast.
Over the winter, Yorkshire need to make some savvy acquisitions. A couple of experienced batsmen would help in all formats and they could use strengthening their spin options. A good overseas player would be very useful.
For T20 cricket, Yorkshire could really use a bowler to take wickets in the powerplay and bowl effectively at the death. When looking around for their overseas player, a top class bowler ought to be a high on the wish list.
Season rating: for an average season, an average rating – 4/10