Don’t change the approach is the message from Ali Maiden as his Yorkshire side prepare to continue their impressive Royal London Cup campaign against Essex at Chelmsford on Wednesday (11am).
Ahead of their clash with the Eagles, the Vikings have won three out of four games so far and have a great chance of qualifying for the knockout stages courtesy of a top three finish.
They sit third in the table on six points from four games, one clear of Essex in fourth, who have played five.
Assistant coach Maiden, who is taking charge of the team for this competition in Ottis Gibson’s absence, spoke prior to a ball being bowled about a young side just playing and not focusing on aiming for qualification.
Now, though, with the games whittling down and knockout cricket coming into view with more clarity, does the focus change for the group?
“I hope not because we’ve done so well taking it game by game,” said Maiden.
“I haven’t looked at the table at all. I’m sure the lads will, but I’m hoping they don’t pay too much attention to it because the danger is that you start looking too far ahead again.
“If you do start to take notice, the expectation changes.
“My hope is that we can keep the expectation at, ‘We’ve got a game of cricket today, let’s play the best game we can. Let’s not worry about what happens in the long-run’.
“As things progress, the expectation will go up. But let’s deal with that later. Let’s just take each game as it comes for now.”
Maiden is delighted with how things are progressing.
He continued: “We’ve talked a lot about this being a young team and the way they approached it last year and the way we want to approach it this.
“It’s actually surprised me how mature they do play. They look like they’ve played a lot together as a team.
“They’re playing really well and look confident.”
Yorkshire have so far won games against Northamptonshire, Worcestershire and Glamorgan, the latest in their last match at Cardiff last Wednesday when they defended a target of 258 to win comfortably on a slow and low pitch.
“The Glamorgan game is the win which has pleased me most because it was a tough game of cricket,” said Maiden. “It was a hard pitch to play on, but we dealt with it well.
“The first game at York, against Northants for example, was an easy game. It was a flat pitch and lots of runs.”
There have been some standout contributions so far; centuries for Will Fraine and Harry Duke against Northants and Jack Shutt’s 4-46 against Glamorgan.
But, without a major haul, Ben Coad has been fabulous. In three games, bowling 10 overs in each, he has returned figures of 1-19, 1-29 and 1-26.
“Coady goes unmentioned every game,” said Maiden. “He doesn’t knock people over like Shutty did, but he’s going at two an over.
“He’s unbelievable, absolutely brilliant for us.
“He’s a very, very good bowler. As soon as you get him on the park, he knows exactly what he’s doing. His record speaks for itself.”
Another part of Yorkshire’s success so far, believes Maiden, is an improvement in their fielding, an area which has let the county down already this season – most notably in Championship cricket through a host of dropped catches.
“We’ve made this a point throughout this competition,” he added.
“I want Gibbo to come back in after the Hundred and go, ‘Wow, who are these lads?’
“That’s not necessarily a skill thing. My belief is that it’s an attitude and mentality towards fielding. I think we’re showing real signs of doing that.
“At Glamorgan, I thought we were exceptional in the outfield. George Hill was brilliant on the boundary.
“I’m chuffed to bits with that side of things.”
Essex, Yorkshire’s conquerers at Chelmsford in last season’s quarter-final play-off tie, have won two of five games in addition to a No Result so far.
The Eagles sit a point behind the Vikings having played once more.
They have won their last two against Kent and Glamorgan, posting scores of 331 and 341. In the game prior to that mini-run, a defeat to Northants, they posted 343-9.
Essex are missing key players such as Simon Harmer due to Test duty and Dan Lawrence because of the Hundred. Sir Alastair Cook is out injured.
Tom Westley is their captain and has scored back-to-back centuries. Coach Anthony McGrath has signed South African wicketkeeper Grant Roelofsen as an overseas player out of Essex League cricket.
Fin Bean, Dom Bess, Ben Coad, Harry Duke (W), Will Fraine, George Hill, Will Luxton, Tom Loten, Mathew Revis, Jack Shutt, Harry Sullivan, Jonny Tattersall ©, Matthew Waite.