Andrew Gale’s message to his Yorkshire players ahead of Sunday’s final round must win Bob Willis Trophy game against Leicestershire at Emerald Headingley (10.30am start) will be, ‘Don’t get ahead of yourselves’.
Yorkshire go into their fifth and final North Group game against the out of contention Foxes knowing they realistically need to win to stand any chance of advancing to the five-day Lord’s final on September 23.
From the three groups – the North, Central and South – only the two best placed group winners advance.
Yorkshire are currently second in the North, five points behind leaders Derbyshire, who face Lancashire, who can’t qualify, at Liverpool.
In the Central Group, the two two sides in Somerset (76 points) and Worcestershire (70) play each other at New Road. In the South, Essex (70) host third-placed Middlesex (59) at Chelmsford. Kent (64), in second place, can also qualify.
The permutations are plentiful, with a point here or there potentially making all the difference.
Coach Gale, though, has urged his White Rose players to keep things simple as they search for a third victory to add to early successes against Durham and Nottinghamshire and rain-affected draws against Derbyshire and Lancashire.
He said: “First and foremost, we’ve got to finish top of that (North) group. That’s got to be the main focus.
“As soon as you start going into games trying to force points, you get too far ahead of yourself.
“I’ve learnt a few cruel lessons in the past on that.
“We’ll be going in to win the game without chasing it. We won’t be thinking, ‘We need 400 and to bowl them out for less than 200’.
“If we go about our business like we have done in previous rounds, I think we’ll be on the right end of the result.
“Had we played four days against Derby and Lancashire, who knows what would have happened?
“But the wickets we’re playing on at Headingley are four-day pitches. We’re not producing them to win in two and a half days. That’s good for both teams.
“You have to play tough, hard first-class cricket to win games.”
While Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan and Joe Root will be unavailable due to England duty, Gale will be able to call upon fit again seamers Ben Coad and Matthew Fisher for the first time since the opening round victory over Durham at Emirates Riverside when they shared 10 wickets.
Gale could even select David Willey if he so wishes after his return from England commitments earlier this week.
Whatever happens this weekend, however, Gale will be able to reflect on a positive shortened four-day campaign which has seen him blood a number of youngsters, highlighted by first-class debuts for Jack Shutt, Dom Leech and George Hill.
The development of 23-year-old all-rounder Jordan Thompson, with 172 runs and 10 wickets, has also been exceptional.
“I think the young lads will gain a lot of confidence from this,” added Gale.
“You always tell them how tough first-class cricket is, but they’ve had a taste of it and have stood up and performed really well.
“There’s a really good feel about the dressing room at the minute.
“It’s fantastic for me as a coach to teach and coach these young lads.
“I’m really, really enjoying my job at the minute because young players make big strides in a short space of time. In the last three, four or five weeks, we’ve seen that.
“You can work with them all winter, but until they get a taste of first-class and first-team cricket you never quite know whether they’re up to it or not.
“But they’ve had a taste and will know going into this winter what they need to work on to be successful.”
Since beating Lancashire in the opening round, Leicester have lost one and drawn two.
Ben Coad and Matthew Fisher return to the squad for the final group game in the Bob Willis Trophy at Emerald Headingley. Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid and Joe Root are all on England duty.
14-man squad to take on Leicestershire:
Steven Patterson ©
Jonny Tattersall (wk)
Bob Willis Trophy North Group table
• Leicestershire’s last win in first-class cricket against Yorkshire was in 2002. There have been seven such matches since.
• Yorkshire’s highest total in this series at Headingley is 560 for six declared in 1921 but Leicestershire’s is 353 for nine declared in 1998.
• In 1906 Leicestershire were bowled out for 34 at Headingley and this is the lowest total for any visiting team at the ground in the County Championship.
• George Hirst’s innings of 341 at Leicester in 1905 is Yorkshir’s highest individual innings against any opponent. Leicestershire’s best against Yorkshire is James Whitaker’s 218 at Bradford in 1996.
• Leicestershire’s best innings-bowling performance against Yorkshire is nine for 63 taken by Terry Spencer at Huddersfield in 1954; Yorkshire’s best is eight for 25 by George Hirst at Hull in 1907.
• Four Yorkshire players – George Hirst, FS Jackson, Ted Wainwright and Chris Old – have all scored a century and taken five wickets in an innings in the same match in this series but no one has done so for Leicestershire.
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