George Hill has some happy memories of Wantage Road, where Yorkshire visit this weekend to take on Northamptonshire in their latest Vitality County Championship fixture, starting tomorrow (11am).

In July 2021, Hill was handed the responsibility of opening the batting alongside Adam Lyth, with the Yorkshire team at the time struggling with injuries and availability. He went and made a polished 71, his maiden first-team fifty, in an away win.

At the start of the following year, now batting at three, all-rounder Hill hit a patient second-innings 151 in a high-scoring draw. It was his maiden century in Yorkshire’s first-team.

Hill, now 23, has gone on to score three more centuries for Yorkshire, including one in List A cricket. All have come batting in different positions, indicating a more than useful versatility.

Add to that his ever-improving seamers, as demonstrated with seven wickets in Yorkshire’s latest Championship match – their defeat against Sussex at Hove last weekend.

The return to Wantage Road this weekend marks a good time to discuss with Keighley-born Hill his development as a young cricketer. Is he happy with how things are progressing?

George Hill

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. George Hill bats in the nets this summer.

“I’m definitely happy,” he said.

“I’m extremely happy to be playing the games I’m playing in the red ball stuff. That Gibbo and Shan keeping on picking me, it’s given me added confidence.

“But there is still plenty to improve on, and there’s a lot more to come.

“Last year, I had lots of opportunities to get hundreds and just couldn’t kick on often enough, for example.

“I’ve taken on numerous different roles.

“I’ve batted everywhere from two to eight. I’ve also bowled in different scenarios. It can be quite tricky to get into a rhythm because of that, but I’m learning a lot.”

George Hill

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. George Hill celebrates last season’s century against Gloucestershire.

Reflecting on his spell opening the batting during the second half of 2021, Hill continued: “That was the best thing for my batting development, opening the batting.

“Your technique gets tested against the new ball more than in any other position.

“The fact I did alright that year and got a couple of hundreds against some serious bowlers, it gave me a lot of confidence and taught me a lot about myself and my game.”

Hill says being left out of the Glamorgan draw at Headingley earlier this month has acted as added motivation.

“It was very disappointing, but I had a good honest chat with Gibbo, who said it was solely based on the conditions – the fact they wanted to play two spinners and wanted a bit more pace in the seamers who did play,” he said.

“It didn’t make it any less disappointing, but it was an honest chat and I was happy with the reasoning.

George Hill

Picture by John Heald. George Hill bowls Ollie Robinson in the second innings at Hove on Sunday.

“I worked hard on my bowling that week – ran in that bit harder, and thankfully it paid off with some wickets at Hove.”

Skilful Hill’s bowling will be more important than ever at Wantage Road, with Yorkshire shorn of options in that regard following a glut of injuries, including the talismanic Ben Coad, who suffered a back injury late on day two and will almost certainly miss out.

He is a bowler who Hill looks up to with regards to his quality and admits to learning “quite a lot” from.

“I don’t know how he does it,” added Hill. “He obviously nips it when the help’s there, but he does it when we play on flat ones as well.

“The main thing is that he’s just so consistent.

“And I feel when you’re that consistent and you do bowl a half bad ball, it doesn’t always get punished because the batter isn’t expecting it.

Ben Coad

Picture by John Heald. Ben Coad will be a big miss at Wantage Road.

“He’s a bit of a freak, to be honest with you.”

Happy with his own progression, yes. But Hill and his Yorkshire team-mates certainly won’t be happy with the position they find themselves in the Division Two table.

Winless after six games, they sit second bottom on 63 points, 26 adrift of second-placed Middlesex, who hold a promotion place at present. Northamptonshire are fifth on 70 points with five draws and a defeat so far.

Sri Lankan fast bowling debutant Vishwa Fernando will play the first of his three Championship matches for Yorkshire this weekend, the left-armer also playing against Gloucestershire at Scarborough and Derbyshire at Chesterfield next month.

“We made our ambitions clear from the start – we want to get promoted. So we have to play better cricket,” said coach Ottis Gibson.

“We lost our main man, Ben Coad, but we’ve gained Vishwa Fernando.

Vishwa Fernando

Picture by John Heald. Vishwa Fernando will debut against Northamptonshire.

“The thing about county cricket is the games come very quickly.

“There’s no time to feel sorry yourself. You have to dust yourself off and go again.

“If we weren’t putting ourselves in a position to win, it would be a tougher situation. I still feel confident in the group we have. We have some overseas help who could make a difference. I feel we have enough to help us achieve our ambitions.”

Northamptonshire will be frustrated to have drawn their last match against hosts Derbyshire at the County Ground on Monday. In pursuit of a 371 target, Derbyshire held on at 271-9.

Captained by Luke Procter and coached by Yorkshireman John Sadler, they have signed Indian batter Karun Nair and compatriot seamer Siddharth Kaul as their overseas players.

Highly-rated opening batter Emilio Gay has been their standout player so far this season with 661 runs to his name so far this season – the second most in Division Two. The left-hander has posted scores of 261 and 153 not out.

Emilio Gay

Picture by David Rogers/Getty Images. In-form Northamptonshire batter Emilio Gay.

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