Yorkshire’s new D40 captain Matt Bateman says he is relishing the challenge of trying to marry performance and progression in his first season in charge.

Bateman was a key member of the squad which came national disability champions in 2023, the county winning the Quest League title in their first season after promotion. 

It was Bateman’s first year with the county, and he has since taken on leadership duties from the retired ex-England batter Gordon Laidlaw.

“Last year is still up there as one of the best things I’ve ever been involved in,” reflected Bateman, a former Hampshire school of excellence cricketer. “I think the rest of the boys are the same. 

“We’re all still buzzing from it to be honest, and we’re getting ready to make a fist of defending it.”

Yorkshire start their summer a week on Sunday (April 28) with a home clash against Middlesex. Wet weather means they have yet to choose between two possible venues. 

Bateman’s side also have a friendly this Sunday against the Metronomes side.

Matt Bateman Alex Jervis

Picture courtesy of Matt Bateman. Yorkshire’s new D40 captain Matt Bateman (r) with England bowler Alex Jervis and last year’s National Quest League trophy.

Clearly, Yorkshire would love to defend their title this summer, again beating off competition from the likes of Lancashire, Middlesex and Hampshire. But there is another focus for the side heading into the 2024 campaign.

In the winter, team manager Owen Jervis spoke about the desire to develop the youth and build a foundation for long-term success, and it’s hoped new signings such as Curtis Sugden and Dairen Hirst Spalding will start a long and successful journey with the county. 

“It doesn’t matter what team takes the field, when we all cross that boundary rope we will be desperate to win,” continued Bateman, a player in his mid-forties. “But Owen is right, the long-term future of Yorkshire Disability Cricket is the key focus.

“It’s all very well that you’ve got the likes of myself, Kyle Clayton and a few of the older ones around now. But we’re going to find, like Gordon has in the winter, that there will become a time when we hang our bats up.

“There needs to be a succession plan in place, and I think these lads who Owen has gone and signed up fit the bill. 

“It’s exciting, and it’s something I’m used to with my club side (Carlton-in-Lindrick). 

“When you see them thrive and perform, it gives you a real buzz to know you’ve played your part – however big or small – in finding their way.

Curtis Sugden

Photo by YCCC. New signing Curtis Sugden, a Yorkshire Cricket College student.

“Hopefully these boys take their opportunity, and we can celebrate some really good performances.

“Curtis, I’ve seen him in the nets a couple of times. He bats very sensibly for a young lad. He has a good cricket brain on him, I think. He likes to construct an innings and won’t mind if he’s going along at 50 or 60 runs per 100 balls. He’ll look to accelerate as the innings goes on.That’s proper batting. I’m excited to see that.

“Dairen, I haven’t seen much of him. But I’ve been told he’s a talent who will bat in the top six and he turns the ball as well. We have some great spin options this year.”

Bateman chuckles when asked about his pride in taking on his new role.

“Look, I can’t wait. I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. 

“There’s a bit of pressure on it as well, isn’t there. It would be horrendous to take the captaincy and find yourself not doing so well! 

“I love these guys, and that’s why I’m back again. It would have been easy to have one dance and let the youngsters take over. But I really enjoyed it last year.”

Picture courtesy of Matt Bateman. Matt and Yorkshire team-mate Rob Hewitt at the crease.

The task of defending a title for any side in sport is always a tough one. 

He added: “There are a couple of teams who will feel like they owe us one this year.

“I’d say Sussex will feel disappointed that they didn’t manage to get over the line against us when we only had nine players, and Middlesex will feel like they had their opportunity to lift the trophy taken away by the weather when our game against them was rained off.

“They are the two who will have a target on us.

“But when you’re a title-winning side, everybody does. They all want to knock you off your perch.

“Lancashire as well, they probably should have won it. They were chasing less than 100 on the final day of the season and fell short. Had they won that, they would have been champions.

“I didn’t know what to expect when I started last year, but week on week, I saw crazy talent everywhere. So there are no easy games.”

Owen Jervis

Picture by YCCC. Yorkshire Disability team manager Owen Jervis.

Meanwhile, 10 Yorkshire players have been retained or drafted ahead of this summer’s Disability Premier League.

The competition brings together the best players across England from three  impairment categories – deaf, physical and learning disabilities.

Owen Morris was the most notable retained player in last week’s draft, and he will represent the defending champions Hawks. He is the only player who does not currently represent a national squad.

Alex Jervis (Pirates) and Henry Wainman (Hawks) complete the retained players from Yorkshire.

Robert Hewitt (Hawks), Cameron Cooper and James O’Conner (Black Cats), Cameron Sweeney and Liam Thomas (Pirates), Kyle Clayton and Luke Riley (Tridents) were also drafted.

The DPL final will be held at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens on September 13, and will be televised by Sky Sports ahead of an England men’s T20I against Australia. 

The four-team competition starts on August 25.

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