Shan Masood is hoping that being able to start this summer with Yorkshire will be key to him finding his top form in the Vitality County Championship, which continues with a trip to face Middlesex at Lord’s tomorrow (11am). 

Captain Masood scored a brilliant first-innings 140 in the last round draw against Gloucestershire at Bristol, adding 40 in the second innings as well.

It came off the back of a nought in the opening round draw against Leicestershire at Headingley.

The Pakistan Test captain, in the second season of an overseas deal at Headingley, impressed last season with 720 runs in seven Championship matches, though it was a disrupted campaign for the experienced left-hander.

He didn’t arrive until May and had to leave again for a mid-summer Test tour of Sri Lanka.

And he is confident that with a more settled start to 2024, the results can be even better – maybe even similar to what he produced for Derbyshire at the start of 2022 when he contributed 1,074 runs in eight four-day matches, including back-to-back double hundreds.

“I was thinking about this, I was with Derby from day one, and that season I got seven Championship games in a row,” he said. “Hopefully I can get that now until the end of May, and hopefully I’ll put some decent numbers on the board.

Shan Masood

Picture by Dan Mullan/Getty Images. Shan Masood celebrates his first-innings century at Bristol.

“But, it’s important to not look just at the numbers and keeping digging to find that process.

“Against Leicester, even though it was only six balls, I didn’t feel like I found my rhythm. On day one at Bristol, I had to forcefully give myself that time. 

“That’s what the coaches have been telling me. Ali (Maiden) works really hard with the batsmen, and the communication is spot on. The communication was, ‘Let’s give respect to the good balls and keep that process, but always look to score’.

“I want to be in good positions to score runs. 

“If they are hundreds, fine. But sometimes you can score good fifties and sixties for the team.”

A good run of games is clearly vital for all players. 

“When you do get a failure, it upsets you. But you know that you have the next game and the next game,” continued Masood.

Lord's

Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com. Lord’s, the Home of Cricket.

“Last year, I came in against Durham for one four-day match and we didn’t play another for a whole month. We played another four-dayer, then I went back to Test duty. 

“When I came back, it was 50-over cricket through August. 

“We didn’t really play four-day cricket until September when I felt like I got my rhythm back. By then, the season was nearly over.

“It’s very important I’m here for the start of the season.”

Yorkshire head to Lord’s having played some good cricket in the opening two rounds but without the rewards they would have hoped for. 

After reaching lunch on day one at 90-5, they recovered to dominate the contest against Gloucestershire, with a host of key contributions both with bat and ball. Unfortunately, they were unable to put the finishing touches to their performance on Monday when the hosts held firm with the bat. 

However, it was no disaster given Yorkshire sit joint second in the Division Two table on 25 points, four behind leaders Sussex. 

Harry Brook

Picture by Dan Mullan/Getty Images. Harry Brook returns to Lord’s, the venue for his first competitive debut in a Yorkshire shirt in the 2017 Championship defeat against Middlesex.

Every game in the second tier has so far been a draw, and there has only been one result in two rounds across the entire County Championship. That owes much to the weather and some excellent batting.

“I feel like we’re in a great place as a team,” said Masood.

The left-hander’s confidence in his team’s current state is as much down to the options available. Look at the players who missed out from the 13-man squad at Bristol, for example – all-round duo Matthew Revis and Jordan Thompson.

“They are players who will fit in most elevens. They are top-class players in all three formats,” said Masood.

“Revis has been outstanding. For him not to start the first two games, I’m sure it must have been annoying. 

“For us, it is also because he’s one of the players who have really stepped up along with the younger players. 

“Jordy, is one of the main players for the club and always steps up when you need him to – ball, bat, field. He’s always willing to bowl the hard overs, he’s always up for the fight. 

Matthew Revis

Picture by John Heald. Matthew Revis could come in for his first appearance of 2024, while fellow all-rounder Jordan Thompson is also in contention to return to the team at Lord’s.

 

“To drop him was a hard decision.

“But I think you have to put your hand on your heart and take the most honest decision for the team. 

“Gibbo and I thought it was the best eleven we could go with.

“Yes, missing two all-rounders in Thompson and Revis. But the way Tattersall and Milnes batted in the first innings, that was very encouraging. It shows we can be flexible.

“We can put two spinners out whenever needed. In the latter half of the season, in particular, we will need that. 

“For the guys, it’s about being patient for your opportunity and making the most of it.

“We also have Dom Bess sitting out right now, and he’s an exceptional player in my opinion. But once we hit September and it is done, everyone will have had a fair go.

Shan Masood

Picture by YCCC. Shan Masood speaks to the media at Bristol last weekend. He scored 91 and 62 for Derbyshire at Lord’s in early 2022 – a draw with Middlesex.

“You always need a squad when you fight for trophies on all three fronts. 

“That is our challenge this year, to do well across the board. Whether it’s white ball cricket or red ball cricket, we hope Yorkshire is up there fighting for the titles.”

It would be no surprise to see a change or two to Yorkshire’s team for Lord’s, where the Dukes ball returns to use.

Middlesex were relegated last season.

Captained by ex-England seamer Toby Roland-Jones, they have played out two high-scoring draws so far against Glamorgan at Lord’s and Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.

Ryan Higgins and Max Holden have already scored double centuries for them.

Middlesex squad

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