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Winter Exodus for warmer climes

— 24 December 2013

There will be a mass exodus from Headingley this winter with no fewer than 22 players heading south to play cricket and continue their preparation ahead of the 2014 season.

  • It is an operation fully endorsed by the management team and with a pre-season tour also in the final stages of planning, no stone is being left unturned as Yorkshire look to improve on their efforts from their most recent campaign.

  • “The players will also gain life experiences. Grade cricket in Australia, in particular, is a hard environment and very competitive.” - Martyn Moxon

    “We fully back the lads heading south for the winter,” said Director of Cricket Martyn Moxon.

    “Every winter we encourage lads to go and play cricket in the Southern hemisphere. It is ideal preparation for the new season. Nothing beats playing on grass pitches, in good conditions against quality players.

    “You can do all the training in the world in the gym, which is important, but you can’t replicate match conditions in the indoor nets.

    “The players will also gain life experiences. Grade cricket in Australia, in particular, is a hard environment and very competitive. Most weeks you are coming up against First-class players from the domestic competition and when they have a free weekend you will get Test players playing. Also, being English out there is also another challenge the lads will face. They’ll be plenty of banter on the field.”

  • Alongside our four England internationals – Jonny Bairstow, Gary Ballance, Tim Bresnan and Joe Root – we have Kane Williamson away with New Zealand in their home series against West Indies. Williamson, who has starred with the bat in the last Test Match again West Indies, scoring 56 and 58 in his two innings, will be with Yorkshire for the majority of the 2014 campaign as our overseas star.

  • If you are aficionado of Australian grade cricket, then Melbourne and Adelaide will be well worth taking an interest in from January onwards. Six Yorkshire players will be looking to impress on the local league scene.

    In Melbourne, skipper Andrew Gale (pictured left, wearing his Dandenong club shirt) is currently playing for Victoria Premier League side Dandenong. After 13 rounds, the Panthers are sitting in the bottom half of the league, but a positive result last weekend against second-placed Melbourne lifted spirits with Gale top scoring with 44 batting at number three. He will be looking to build on that after the Christmas break in the run-in to the play-offs.

    “It’s been good so far,” said Gale, who has travelled to Melbourne with his family.
    “The cricket’s been really good. The pitches have been a bit indifferent, which has been quite surprising. Maybe that’s just because of the weather being a bit wet. We have a good mix of lads and they have made me feel welcome. There is a bit of banter in the dressing room, which is part and parcel being a pommy over here.

    “After Christmas I want to be back in form. That’s my main priority. I’ve been working on a few specifics with my game and they’ve been going quite well.

    “If I can up the ante with some big scores before I come back ahead of the latter stages of Yorkshire’s pre-season, that’s the main reason why I came here.”

  • In the New Year wicketkeeper Dan Hodgson (below left) will be joining Mount Waverley Cricket Club based in East Melbourne. Mount play in the Victoria Suburban District Cricket Association – a league below the Victoria Premier League. Ahead of the Christmas break, they are currently bottom of the league and Hodgson could be the man to make an impact and give them some impetus during the second half of the season.

    In addition to Gale and Hodgson, Azeem Rafiq (below right) will also play in Melbourne turning out for Dandenong West from late January. After a season of disappointment with injury and loss of form, Rafiq is eager to start the 2014 campaign in good spirits. A stint in the pressure cooker environment of Australian league cricket will benefit the 22-year-old offbreak bowler. Dandenong West plays in the Dandenong & District Cricket Association. They are currently ranked sixth at the halfway stage.

  • Over in South Australia, we have three players hoping to make an impact on the Adelaide scene. Fast bowler Moin Ashraf, who struggled to gain a regular place in the first team in 2013 after starring in limited-overs cricket in 2012, will join South Australian Premier side East Torrens. At the Christmas break, they are mid-table. Ashraf, who will join up with his new team at the end of January, has never played in Australia. He will play alongside Jake Lehmann, the son of former Yorkshire legend and current Australian coach Darren Lehmann. Lehmann junior has already represented South Australia at under 23 and under 19s level.

    All-rounder Liam Plunkett (pictured right) will also be heading back to Adelaide after a successful season last year with Adelaide University. He heads out at the same time as Ashraf and will join up with University aiming to get to the finals in March.

    Young seamer Ben Coad has been awarded a scholarship at the Darren Lehmann Academy, based in Adelaide. He follows in the footsteps of England star Joe Root, who spent three months at the highly-acclaimed development centre in 2011. The trip is being funded by the Yorkshire Pride Lottery thanks to generosity of the members, who pay their weekly subs to the scheme. Yorkshire have high hopes for Coad, who got his first taste of senior cricket in 2013 in the one-day squad.

  • Up the coast in Sydney, promising batsman Jack Leaning (pictured left) has spent all winter with the Sutherland Cricket Club, in the Sydney Grade Competition arguably the strongest in Australia. He was invited to the club by former Yorkshire overseas batsman Phil Jaques. Sutherland have a whole host of stars that represent them including current Australian Test stars Steve Smith and Shane Watson and Big Bash sensation Nic Maddinson.

    The 20-year-old batsman from York has found it tough going and only broke into the first team in the past couple of weeks. One of the pleasing aspects has been his quality of fielding and the development of his offbreaks. Going into the Christmas break, he helped last season’s runners-up with victory over Blacktown thanks to quickfire 39 not out and bowling figures of two for 23 runs from 4.4 overs.

    Under the leadership of Jaques, who is amongst the league’s leading batsmen with an average of 57.57 this term, Sutherland are ranked 10th out of 20 teams in The Belvidere Cup table and will be hoping to push on from January aiming to break into the top four play-offs in March.

  • “It is a great lifestyle in Perth. The weather is fantastic and to be honest I’d rather be here working on my skills than slogging my guts out in the wet and cold of an English winter.” - Jack Brooks

    In Western Australia, opening bowler Jack Brooks left English soil last week and will join up with Western Australian Grade side Willetton Dragons. This will be Brooks’s second spell at the Club. It is one of the most prosperous Grade Clubs in Perth and was home, for a short while, to England captain Alistair Cook. Australian all-rounder Brad Hogg is also a member of the current squad. At the Christmas break, the Dragons are in a good position – fourth in the table – and aiming to reach a Grand Final for the first time since 2010.

    “I love this part of the world,” said Brooks. “This is the second time I’ve been out here. I was a member of the club nine years ago. My claim to fame was that I played the same season with Alistair Cook. Albeit he was in the first team and I was in and out of second and third grade.

    “It is a great lifestyle in Perth. The weather is fantastic and to be honest I’d rather be here working on my skills than slogging my guts out in the wet and cold of an English winter.”

    Moving onto South Africa and promising young seamer James Wainman will be using his stay in Johannesburg to gain full fitness ahead of English summer. Wainman has struggled with a back injury over the past couple of seasons will be playing for one of the most prestigious clubs in South Africa – Wanderers Cricket Club.

  • Finally, we have a number of players who will be representing their country at various levels over the next few months. Opener Alex Lees will team up with Bairstow on the England Lions tour of Sri Lanka next month.

    Five players have been selected to represent England under 19s at the forthcoming World Cup. They are Karl Carver, Matthew Fisher, Will Rhodes, Josh Shaw and Jonathan Tattersall.

    Yorkshire’s production line continues with the England Development Programme at under 17s level with two players invited to an elite training camp at Easter in Sri Lanka – Moin Hussain and Jared Warner.

    Over the next few months, we will be keeping you up-to-date with the exploits of our players as they fly the white rose across the World.

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