Steve Patterson says Yorkshire’s youngsters have already answered the most important question asked of them in this season’s Royal London Cup.
“When we’re looking ahead for later this year and next, for County Championship and T20 cricket, we wanted to know whether these lads could cope under the pressure?” said the White Rose club captain.
“Quite simply, yes they can.
“But they’ve not just coped, they’ve won games.”
Yorkshire, including Dom Bess after his release from England’s Test squad, head down to Cardiff to face Group B leaders Glamorgan on Thursday (11am) in their final group game knowing they have to win in order to qualify for the knockout stages.
Patterson has played just once in the competition, though has been around for the majority of time as a mentor, supporting Rich Pyrah and the rest of the coaching staff – Paul Grayson and Ian Dews.
It has been said many times before that silverware is not the sole measure of success, with Patterson believing lead coach Pyrah has struck the perfect balance between chasing wins and developing players.
“The lads want to win every time we go out there. That’s their goal,” he said.
“But what Rich has done really well is not putting the pressure on them of having to win, allowing them to just go out and enjoy the opportunity. When you do that, usually you get better performances out of players anyway.
“Of course, it would be fantastic to qualify, but we haven’t wanted to put that at the forefront of their minds and take away that freedom.”
Clearly, qualification will now be at the forefront of minds. It is impossible for it not to be at this stage of the competition.
So, do things change for the players?
Opening batsman Will Fraine was someone who played with all the freedom in the world against Derbyshire at Chesterfield on Sunday when his career best unbeaten 69 catapulted the Vikings to a 10-over target of 109, winning by eight wickets with eight balls to spare.
In reaching 50 off just 19 balls, he recorded Yorkshire’s fastest half-century in List A history.
“I don’t think things will change,” said Fraine. “If they did, we’d be betraying everything that we’ve committed to from the start.
“We play every game, in my opinion, like it’s a cup final – like we should do.
“You should play every game like it’s your last game. If I didn’t do that, I’d want my team-mates to call me out on it.
“We’ve played without pressure, and the coaches have done a great job in letting us relax a bit.
“All Rich has asked for is energy in the field and for us to learn lessons. And I feel like we’ve done that.
“We’ve won some really good games. The chase at Leicester (328) was a massive highlight. George Hill, 20-years-old, and Duke, 19, put a partnership together against a seasoned county attack. That was amazing.
“I think we go down to Glamorgan with the same mindset.
“We’ve got everything to play for, and we’ve just got to stick to the basics and stick to what we’ve been doing well. That’s playing with freedom and expressing ourselves.
“Sometimes, when it goes wrong, it can look like, ‘Oh, you’re just giving your wicket away’. But, if you commit to a plan that’s good and an environment that’s good, it will come good. That’s what we’ve seen this year.
“I know we expect of ourselves to be qualifying in everything. We expect ourselves to be one of the best counties in the country. But doing it is a whole different thing.
“There are no mugs on the circuit. There’s no poor counties, everyone’s strong. Let’s see what happens. Roll on Glamorgan.”
Yorkshire are currently fourth in Group B on eight points.
They are one of four teams on that total; Nottinghamshire in second having played all eight games, Surrey in third having played seven and Somerset in fifth having played seven.
The permutations are a plenty in the group which also sees Derbyshire host Surrey tomorrow, Northamptonshire face Leicestershire and Warwickshire play Somerset.
Yorkshire cannot qualify with a defeat, but they could with a point for a No Result or a tie. Equally, they could miss out with victory.
The Vikings can still finish in each of the top three positions in the group.
Glamorgan are top with 10 points and a significantly better net run-rate than the White Rose. But a huge win could overturn that.
That would open the door for them to finish top and advance directly to a home semi-final at Scarborough on Tuesday.
More realistically, is an Eliminator fixture on Saturday either at Emerald Headingley with a second-placed finish or away by finishing third.
Group A, which is being decided on an average points per completed game basis following Coronavirus issues, is also complicated.
But one mouthwatering prospect which remains a distinct possibility is a Roses Eliminator match against Lancashire on Saturday. The Red Rose county are currently third in Group A.
Bess has been named in a 16-man Yorkshire squad, but a late decision will be taken on whether he captains the side or leaves that job in Gary Ballance’s hands.