James Wharton says he feels like he now belongs in Yorkshire’s first-team after an encouraging breakthrough summer which has included performances in all three competitions – but the fledgling batter is determined to push on.
Satisfied but not delighted is perhaps a fair way to sum up the 22-year-old’s feelings on a campaign which has including a pair of half-centuries in the LV= Insurance County Championship, another in the Metro Bank One-Day Cup and a blistering 111 not out in a Vitality Blast win over Worcestershire.
He is one of the county’s brightest young batting talents, with talent and determination in equal measure.
Huddersfield-born Wharton contributed 58 in the first innings of this week’s win over Derbyshire at Scarborough added to 38 in the second innings.
He will hope to better that when Yorkshire travel to Cardiff to face Glamorgan in their latest Division Two fixture, starting on Sunday (10.30am).
“It’s that ruthlessness I need to snap into because when you’re 58 on that pitch, you shouldn’t be nicking off,” he said of his North Marine Road half-century.
“It was a slow deck with not a lot of movement and the ball was old. There was no excuse for me there. It was poor execution.
“That will happen throughout my career. I’m not going to stop nicking off. But when I’m in those situations at 50-60 not out, that’s where I need to improve.”
After posting his half-century on day two at Scarborough, Wharton spoke about recent work in the nets with assistant coach Ali Maiden and head coach Ottis Gibson.
Maiden’s batting expertise has helped Wharton work on his trigger movement and balance at the crease.
“I’m feeling confident at the minute,” Wharton continued.
“I was saying to Gibbo recently that I’m not really taking confidence from the scores that I get, it’s more how I’m feeling in the nets and in my practice.
“When I went out there this week, I felt comfortable and like I belonged there. That’s not something I’ve always had.”
When Wharton made his debut in Yorkshire’s first team during the Covid summer, comparisons to Headingley legend Joe Root were obvious. But they are much less so now, with the tall right-hander having found his own very watchable style.
“When you’re young, you’re very easily influenced,” he said.
“I’d change my game every game to fit with my favourite player. I definitely modelled my early technique on Rooty, but I went through a few.
“One week I’d have a different trigger because Jonathan Trott shuffled down the pitch, I used to try and bat like Ian Bell as well.
“But as you get older, you realise that things that work for them may not necessarily work for me.
“Against Derbyshire, my trigger got a lot smaller as the game went on, and that’s something I’ve been working on with Ali and Gibbo. It’s important as you get old to realise how you’re meant to bat and not be someone else. You need to make your way.”
Glamorgan is the first of three remaining games this summer as Yorkshire bid to elevate themselves off the bottom of the Division Two table – a very achievable task.
Wharton and co are 16 points behind second-bottom Gloucestershire with a game in hand.
Yorkshire have 68 points after 11 games, Gloucestershire 84 after 12 and Derbyshire in sixth 85 after 12. With Sussex on 116 points, finishing fifth in the table is probably out of reach.
Glamorgan, meanwhile, are fourth in the table – 31 points behind second-placed Worcestershire with two to play.
With Worcester having three to play, this is a must win for the Welsh county. That may mean a result pitch is prepared at the Sophia Gardens ground.
Kiran Carlson’s side suffered a damaging 80-run defeat against Worcestershire at New Road earlier this week.
They did dominate a draw at Headingley in early May when Yorkshire recovered from being bowled out for 106 in the first innings to survive.
While the English season comes to a close this month, Wharton still has plenty of cricket on the horizon.
“I’m going to Perth in late October to the end of February to play for a club called Wanneroo,” he explained. “It’s not something I’ve ever done before, so it’s exciting.”
Wharton’s choice of club owes to a link at his home club Scholes, who have Australian Mitch Slattery in their ranks.
“I spoke to Mitch about wanting to go over to Australia this winter, and it just went from there,” continued Wharton.
“It will be first grade cricket – as long as I get picked in the first grade team! It’s not always something that happens immediately over there with young English lads.
“It will be different to anything I’ve ever done – going halfway across the world and meeting 20 or 30 new people. That’s very much out of my comfort zone.
“As much as I’m going out there to improve my cricket, it’s also the life experience.
“I’m going into a new environment and playing on different pitches against a load of Aussies who probably won’t like me and will be giving me a load of abuse.
“There will be a lot of different experiences.
“The runs will hopefully come, and I’ll be able to hit the ground running ahead of next summer. But if they don’t, they don’t. I’ll still be learning a lot.
“It’s so cliched, but your failings are where you learn the most.
“You don’t learn a great deal when you get 150. It’s when you’re scratching around and you need to find a way out of it that you learn the most.”