By Graham Hardcastle
Andrew Gale says Yorkshire’s disappointing Vitality Blast campaign dampened the positivity which came with winning the Bob Willis Trophy North Group.
The White Rose only won three of 10 games in the Blast group stage, losing five, including four in a row from a week last Friday to last Thursday.
There were extenuating circumstances as Matthew Fisher, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Josh Poysden and captain David Willey missed the last four games as a result of the latter being diagnosed with Coronavirus and the other three having been in close contact.
But there were games they should have won nevertheless – Leicestershire and Lancashire away added to Durham at home.
In the Bob Willis Trophy, Yorkshire were unbeaten with three wins and two draws.
They topped the North courtesy of wins against Durham, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, only to narrowly miss out on qualifying for this week’s final having had 476 overs lost to weather across their three home games at Emerald Headingley.
“I just feel that the T20 has taken the edge off it a little bit because, coming into T20, we had a good chance,” said coach Gale, when assessing the shortened summer.
“If I’m being honest, I didn’t expect us to win the group because Notts are an excellent team and Lancashire are a very good side.
“We showed on Thursday we could go close to Lancashire, and I’m sure with a full side out we would have won.
“If you turn the clocks back to before the Leicester game (a week ago last Friday) and we were sat nicely in T20.
“We’d just come off the back of winning the regional group we were in in the Bob Willis. But for weather, I don’t think we could have done any more to get to that final.
“Leicester (defending 189 and then three off the last ball at Grace Road) was a speed bump. We should have won.
“Then you lose three bowlers in one day to the Covid and your opening batter!
“That’s a time in the competition when we could have had Joe Root and Dawid Malan. Put that in with Tom and Dave and we’re looking a good side. But we had the heart of our team ripped out.”
Yorkshire handed four-day and T20 debuts to George Hill, Dom Leech, Ben Birkhead, Matthew Revis, James Wharton and Sam Wisniewski, while other young players advanced their case.
Twenty-three year-old all-rounder Jordan Thompson is the prime example.
In five four-day games, he hit 234 runs, with a best of 98 in the win at Nottinghamshire, and took 15 wickets, including 5-31 in a home win against Leicester.
Had Matthew Waite not gone down with a shoulder injury two days before the start of the season, he would certainly not have played in the opening round game against Durham.
Instead, he finished the campaign as their leading contender to be named Player of the Year.
“Coming into this season, I challenged the players to compete in both trophies,” added Gale.
“We haven’t done it in the Blast, but we were excellent in the Bob Willis.
“We’ve also had a chance to look at number of players who wouldn’t have had an opportunity in a normal season. They’ve stood up and showed glimpses they can do it.
“Our challenge now is to improve them and fast-track them on the back of what they’ve learnt.”