Ottis Gibson has reflected on his first month in charge at Yorkshire, which culminated in his side having much the better of their friendly against Durham at the Riverside this week, and he admitted: “Things have been really positive.”
Rain and snow forced the abandonment of today’s third day in the North East.
In the first innings on Monday, Yorkshire posted 221-6 declared, including Adam Lyth and Dawid Malan retired out for 83 and 56 respectively. George Hill also made 46 at the top of the order.
In reply, Durham finished on 177-10 declared yesterday, losing 10 wickets for 123 before batting on longer for further practice. Dom Leech took the new ball and impressed for 3-12, while the rest of the wickets were shared around. In Yorkshire’s second innings, they advanced to 77-2.
Gibson took charge at the start of the month, overseeing a 10-day tour of Dubai, an intra-squad friendly at Bradford Park Avenue last week and then the Durham game.
There are some injury and availability issues surrounding the squad at present.
Gary Ballance’s situation has been well documented, while Ben Coad is easing his way back from a groin strain. Tom Kohler-Cadmore is currently dealing with concussion symptoms dating back to his Pakistan Super League spell in February, where he was hit, and Matthew Waite is due a scan on a heel issue.
As a result, an overseas batter is being targeted to join already recruited Pakistan seamer Haris Rauf, who is due to arrive in Leeds next week to be available for the opening six LV= Insurance County Championship matches and the start of the Vitality Blast.
“We worked very hard in Dubai, and the weather has been kind to us over the last couple of weeks back at home, allowing us to get some more good work into the boys,” said Gibson.
“It has been a really good couple of days up here for us.
“The bowlers went out with very simple messages about staying disciplined, and they were excellent.
“Our batters as well. We were very happy with their performance.
“That started in Dubai. We worked very hard with the top five or six batters in getting a lot of volume into them. Lythy got some valuable time in the middle out there, as did Hilly and Brooky.
“What we’re trying to do is to work back from the main event, which is at Gloucester on April 14.
“We want to make sure everyone has the volume of overs in their legs and time at the crease they need to go and perform in that game.
“If you get a hundred now, fantastic. But the time spent in the middle is more important than that.”
Gibson says he can see progression in his players from when he joined on March 1 to now.
“For sure,” he continued.
“There’s going to be a change in philosophy when a new coach comes in, who has his own ideas – like I have.
“But to be fair to the coaches who were here before, there was a fantastic work ethic in place already.
“The players are certainly not afraid of hard work. I pushed them a lot in Dubai, and they worked hard. That work won’t always pay off, but it’s nice when you have days like we have had this week when you do see it pay off.
“It’s a credit to the players that they’ve taken on board what myself and Ali (Maiden) have said and turned it into performances.”
On the injuries, Gibson said: “Coady picked up a strain very early on in Dubai, so he’s probably a week and a half behind everybody else. But I think he’s back bowling again now.
“Tom came back from the Pakistan Super League with concussion, and he is still trying to feel his way back into things. He’s still having some issues, and he’s not been with us at all since I started.
“Our medical team are on top of that and are managing it, but it’s a slow burner. It’s an injury you have to be very careful with.
“Waitey has a heel issue. I think he will be scanned in the next week, I believe.
“He’s not able to bowl. Whether he can play against Leeds/Bradford at the weekend just as a batter, I need to take a steer from the medical team on that.
“He batted nicely in Dubai, he just wasn’t able to bowl.”
On Monday, England batter Malan showed just what an asset he is likely to be for Yorkshire in the opening two months of Championship action with a fluent 56.
“One of the things I thought about when I first thought about taking the job was, ‘There are players like Malan, Ballance, Brook, Lyth, Willey in this squad – the list goes on’,” Gibson said.
“To be able to put out a team with so many good players is fantastic.
“To have Dawid for the first six games of the season is a real big plus for us. Of course he still has to go and perform, but he has a history of performing in county cricket.
“Once we get some batting cover, we feel like we’ll be in a really strong position to go and start the season well. A couple of wins would be the ideal situation for us.”
After a difficult winter, Gibson says it is vitally important that his players can now get stuck into, and concentrate on, match action.
That continues this weekend with a three-day University friendly against Leeds/Bradford at Weetwood, starting on Saturday.
He added: “If you’re a cricketer and you feel like you’re under pressure for whatever reason, you want to go to your happy place – and that is on a cricket field. But, in the winter, they didn’t have that opportunity.
“The lads just want to play cricket, and we can now focus on that with the season upon us.
“We also have to remember the supporters in all of this, the people who pay good money and travel from far and wide to sit in the stands and watch us.
“They have been sitting around for six months waiting for some cricket to watch. Now the season is about to start, we want to entertain them.”