Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie paid lavish tribute to his players yesterday after they had completed the ten-wicket win over Middlesex at Lord’s which took the White Rose to the top of the LV= Division One table.
The victory at the home of cricket was Yorkshire’s first against Middlesex in 19 County Championship games since 1987 and Gillespie’s delight was obvious as he reviewed his team’s comprehensive triumph, which will be toasted across the county tonight.
“It was a great win and I couldn’t have asked for more from the players. We are all absolutely chuffed,” he said. “I have the title of first-team coach but it ‘s an absolute team effort on and off the field.
“It’s important to acknowledge how hard our players work. They can play big innings, they can bowl long spells. They want success, they are striving hard to be the best cricketers they can be and they have to get the credit for that.”
Gillespie’s satisfaction was completely understandable. His players took just one session on Friday to complete their victory in a game they had bossed almost from first to last.
Yorkshire batsmen played as if they expected score runs, their bowlers as if they expected to take wickets and their fielders as if they didn’t anticipate dropping a catch. They looked like..er…champions, although everyone knows that months of work lie ahead before that dream has a chance of becoming reality.
As on the previous three days of the match, Yorkshire’s cricket was ruthless, clinical and very impressive.
Adil Rashid took a further two wickets to finish with 5-78 as Middlesex were dismissed for 219, leaving Adam Lyth and Alex Lees to score just five runs to win the game, a task they completed in 3.4 overs.
Rashid’s bowling success, coming on top of his remarkable recent exploits with the bat – three centuries and an excellent 72 against Middlesex – reinforce what an accomplished all-rounder he is becoming.
“Adil’s had a real clarity about what he’s trying to do,” said Gillespie. “We’ve talked to him about being consistent with everything he’s attempting and he’s been very diligent in all that he does. That’s transferring into his game.
“We encourage him to play with freedom and to enjoy playing cricket. He’s just been fantastic for us this year and we’re hoping that can continue.”
“But Liam Plunkett was someone we were keen to have on board,” added Gillespie. “He’s had a tough couple of seasons but he’s now got himself fit and strong and you saw in this game how damaging he can be.”
And while this was a team triumph for Andrew Gale’s men, no one epitomises Yorkshire’s whole approach at the moment better than seamer Steve Patterson, who has taken 26 County Championship wickets this season
Patterson struck the first blow yesterday when he had John Simpson caught by Richard Pyrah at short mid off for 21 and he also trapped James Harris lbw for 14 as Yorkshire’s players turned the screw on their hosts.
The other wickets to fall on Friday were taken by Ryan Sidebottom and the ex-Durham seamer Plunkett as Yorkshire’s bowlers and fielders followed up the outstanding work done by the first-innings centurions Gale and Lees.
Sidebottom yorked Neil Dexter for 36 in spectacular fashion, uprooting both middle and leg stumps, and Plunkett trapped Ollie Rayner lbw for a duck.
However, while some were lauding Yorkshire’s display, Gillespie was careful not to overplay Yorkshire’s chances of winning the County Championship in their sesquicentennial season.
“The players can certainly feel satisifed at the halfway point that we are where we are, but at the same time we are under no illusions,” he said.
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves at all. Things can change very quickly and we know how tough it’s going to be in the second half of the season. We cherish every victory because four-day wins are difficult to achieve.”