By Graham Hardcastle
Jonny Tattersall admits he is loving his start to life as Yorkshire’s captain, especially as it seems to have been sprinkled with just a little bit of magic.
Tattersall isn’t quite David Blaine, not even at the levels of Penn and Teller, but he has certainly pulled the odd rabbit out a hat to help underpin the Vikings’ impressive form during the first half of the Royal London Cup.
Wednesday’s trip to Chelmsford to face Essex will see the county go in search of their fourth win in five games in Group B. If they were to secure it, it would put them in a fantastic position to secure a top three berth and knock-out qualification.
Tattersall has taken over the Yorkshire captaincy for the rest of the season from Steve Patterson, who stepped down at the end of last month.
He has won two important tosses in the last two games, both of which resulted in victories over Worcestershire at Scarborough and Glamorgan at Cardiff, leading to coach Ali Maiden suggesting: “He’s got a lucky thumb, which is fantastic!”
In addition, taking the win at Glamorgan last Wednesday as the prime example. Tattersall made two bowling changes which yielded immediate reward.
In defence of 258, he brought Matthew Revis back into the attack and he struck with his first ball, removing key man Kiran Carlson caught at mid-wicket by the skipper himself. He later reintroduced Matthew Waite, who struck with his second ball back.
“It’s always great when that happens because you look like a bit of a genius,” laughed 27-year-old Tattersall. “But that’s a mark of the quality of bowlers we have in the team. I can turn to anyone and they all offer something different at each stage of the game.
“We have lads who can bowl pretty much anywhere in the match, which is always helpful as a captain. It’s going well, and I am enjoying it.
“I’ve always thought deeply about the game. Even when I’m not captaining a side, I always think like one and work out what we can do to influence the game. Actually being the one able to make the decisions is just a bit of extension of that.”
Tattersall’s appointment as captain comes towards the end of a season which started with him in the second team, with Harry Duke preferred behind the stumps, although he has since regained the gloves in the championship and posted a career-best 180 against Surrey at Scarborough.
Both men are currently in the Royal London Cup team, with Duke taking the gloves to allow the captain to settle into his new role.
“Tatts has been excellent,” said Yorkshire’s assistant coach Maiden, who is leading the team in this competition with Ottis Gibson working in the Hundred.
“It’s hard to fault the decisions he makes – they’ve generally worked. He brings Revis on and he picks up a wicket straightaway, the same with Waite. He seems to be in a rich vein of form. Things are happening for him, which is a great feeling as a captain.
“His control and manner on the pitch with the lads is great. Everyone respects him. His fielding is exceptional, and he’s batting well. He’s leading by example, which helps massively.
“The biggest test for him will be when things don’t go well. That’s when you show true leadership. But let’s hope that’s a bit off yet.”
With a young side, Yorkshire are refusing to get ahead of themselves in terms of the qualification picture in Group B, despite currently occupying third position. They play their remaining four games in seven days from Wednesday.
Tattersall added: “We’re three from four, and we just have to keep doing what we’re doing. I’ll just be re-emphasising the same messages of sticking to what we do well and the processes of individuals and the team. Hopefully that can lead to the outcomes we all want.”
Essex beat Yorkshire in last season’s play-off tie – an affective quarter-final – at Chelmsford. This season, the Eagles sit one point behind the Vikings on five points, having played one game more. They have won their last two games, posting scores of 331 and 341.