With the players firmly back in the routine of the rigours of strength and conditioning, Yorkshire first team coach Jason Gillespie is full of hope and aspiration as the Club aims to build on their efforts in 2013. Yorkshire pushed champions Durham hard in the LV= County Championship finishing runners-up and with a settled squad going into the new campaign, the aim is to progress and hopefully go one better in 2014.
“We want to play a positive brand and be competitive in all forms of our game. We finished second in the Championship and it would be lovely to go one step better. We understand that is a big task, but we want to set the bar high and try and achieve that as one of our goals.
“As a group we are conscious that we need a very clear plan of how we are going to go about that and once we return for nets in January we will sit down and map out our strategy.
“Most of the other teams that will be competing for the title, will be working hard to improve their game and we will be doing the same. We can’t afford to be complacent and rest on our laurels. I know if we are going to be in the top three then we will need to improve.
“We have a settled squad, which I think will help us. We hope to have Kane (Williamson) with us in all forms of the game for the vast majority of the season, which is a massive bonus. There will be a number of young players also knocking on the door. These are exciting time for Yorkshire cricket and we have to make sure our efforts bear fruit.”
The two one-day competitions, the new 50-over Royal London One-Day Cup and the NatWest T20 Blast, will also be high on the Club’s agenda after a disappointing season in the limited overs format last season. The Vikings finished second bottom in Group C of the 40-over competition and struggled to make any impact in the T20 competition completing a miserable season bottom of the pile in the North Group. This came after reaching the T20 Finals Day in 2012 and Gillespie knows that major improvements have to be made in 2014.
“We were well below par in one-day cricket last season,” explained Gillespie, who felt the team lacked bite in all disciplines of the short form of the game
“Our form was unacceptable and we will be making a mindful effort to make massive strides to compete in one-day cricket. The pre-season is a time when we can iron out any frustrations and faults and develop a strategy that will stand us in good stead.
“We lacked bite in all disciplines. We struggled to put opposition batsmen under pressure, which made it more challenging for our bowlers as well. There were times when we bowled first and gave our batsmen far too much to do through our ill disciplines.
“We pride ourselves on our fielding and while it was very good in patches, we lacked the consistency required to pressurise at this level. The lads acknowledged that it wasn’t good and they all, to a man, know what is required to see us enhance our game next year. That is the pleasing aspect. The players have been honest and open of where we need to improve our game.
“I am relishing the challenge of seeing a marked improvement. The Yorkshire members are a passionate bunch and the expectation level here is huge. We thrive on that pressure and we all know that we have to do much better. We will be working incredibly hard over the next five months to be ready for what will be a demanding season.”
The full squad, except those players on international duty and Andrew Gale and Jack Leaning who are playing Grade cricket in Australia, are being fitness tested under the guidance of new strength and conditioning coaches Ian Fisher, Blaine Clancy and physio Kunwar Bansil, and the additions to the support staff have settled in well to the role.
“The boys are working extremely hard in the gym and in all aspects of their fitness,” added Gillespie.
“It has been a really good start and they are starting to get accustomed to our new team of fitness experts. The players have responded well to the change and they look in good shape. Ian (Fisher), Blaine (Clancy) and Kunwar (Bansil) have settled in well to our environment. They are fresh with ideas, which will benefit the players over the next few months as we continue to build.
“Throughout December, they spend their days optimising fitness levels. It is the hard yards that need to be done so they can condition their bodies ahead of the cricket skills, which we introduce from the second week of January. They will continue with their fitness, alongside skills, right through until the start of the season in April.”