“A pleasing September and some positives throughout.”
That is Matthew Fisher’s succinct summary of Yorkshire’s performances last summer.
Fast bowler Fisher has been speaking ahead of the squad’s return to pre-season training today, when preparations begin in earnest for 2024 when promotion back to Division One of the LV= Insurance County Championship will sit as the primary goal.
Let’s deal with the positives throughout bit first. A club record-equalling six Vitality Blast wins on the trot was an obvious one, a hard-fought Championship win against Derbyshire at Chesterfield was another – in which Fisher claimed a first-innings five-for.
The fabulous form of opening batters Fin Bean and Adam Lyth, who shared over 2,000 runs in the Championship, is something which cannot be ignored.
Matthew Revis’s development as an all-rounder can also be added to that list.
In terms of the pleasing September, that came courtesy of two draws and two wins as Yorkshire elevated themselves off the foot of the Division Two table.
The two victories, against Derbyshire at Scarborough and promoted Worcestershire at Headingley, have given the squad significant confidence that next summer can be their year.
“After the points deduction came, we were able to draw a line under what had happened before,” said Fisher. “We said, ‘Let’s start next summer now’.
“And you could see that clarity in the group in September.
“We knew that if we won a game, we’d get the points that we deserved from it and could move on to the next challenge. It’s going to be the same next year.
“We’ll work hard this winter as we always do, and we know that whatever we achieve next year we’ll deserve whether that’s good or bad.
“We played some really good cricket, so we can take a lot of confidence from that.”
Yorkshire’s performances against the white ball were mixed last summer, and they definitely played their best cricket against the red ball.
Their haul of three wins would have been more had circa 1,950 overs in the Championship not been lost to weather.
“I sometimes think talking about that can be excuses, but this year there were times when we genuinely got done over by the rain,” said Fisher, who is set to travel to the UAE for an England Lions training camp later this month.
“The game we lost against Durham was really close, and that could have easily been different. That was a good game of cricket.
“Then the two big ones were both games against Sussex. I don’t think there’s anyone in world cricket who would say we wouldn’t have won those had the rain not come on the last day.”
Despite the positivity, Fisher and his team-mates know there will be room for improvement as they target a top two finish in next season’s Division Two.
“If you look at our season in general, we scored a lot of runs – a lot of our top four or five did well. Fingers crossed we can do that again,” he said.
“I think where the improvement comes is maybe looking at the way England are doing it and be a bit more adventurous in terms of winning games.
“You look at the amount of games won in the first and second division, and it was miles less in the second. Whether that’s the pitches you play on or whether it’s the bowling attacks – I think it’s probably a combination of both.
“For us, as a bowling unit, it’s about working out how we can do more to win games which are heading for a draw.
“I’m sure that with a fully fit attack, where the second two back up the lads with the new ball, we’ll be in a good place.
“That was one thing which you saw from our successful team in 2014 and 2015. No one let the opposition settle or let them off the hook. But, at stages this year, we probably all did that.
“We’ve got really good depth now, and the more times we can get our best six bowlers on the park, that will be really valuable in helping us try and win the league.
“There are all positive signs, but we just need to be a bit more ruthless with the ball.”
Fisher’s comment about being a bit more adventurous like England’s Test team takes us back to the final game of last summer against Worcestershire at Headingley when Shan Masood declared their first innings early before positively chasing a stiff, contrived final day target.
He added: “You used to be able to be hard to beat and win the odd game and that would be enough to see you up near the top of the first division and it would probably win you the second.
“But the change in points (five for the draw now from eight in 2022) means there’s such a big difference with winning.
“I’ve been saying that you’d rather lose two and win two than draw all four. In the past, you wouldn’t say that.
“That’s something we can think more about, like we did in the last game.”