Yorkshire are confident of backing up last year’s “brilliant achievement” in the Royal London Cup over the next month.
A young side, minus 10 senior stars because of the Hundred, qualified out of their group to reach the effective quarter-final, only to be beaten by an experienced Essex side.
Many emerging players progressed their causes; Harry Duke’s century in the win at Leicestershire and Will Fraine’s blistering fifty in victory over Derbyshire are just two examples.
This year’s competition kicks off next week, preceded by a National Counties friendly against Northumberland at South North CC in Gosforth on Sunday (11am).
“It was a brilliant achievement last year, and we surprised a lot of people,” said Fraine. “We flew under the radar a bit.
“But those guys who did well last year have a lot more experience now. Matty Revis has played nearly a full season of first-team cricket, George Hill is a great player as well.
“We have a lot of bases covered, and we go into it with high hopes.
“A lot of the lads look forward to this comp because guys get opportunities. It’s exciting. We have some really good players. Hopefully we go a couple steps further than we did last year.”
This year, Yorkshire will be without nine players due to the Hundred, plus head coach Ottis Gibson, who has taken up an assistant’s role to James Foster with the Northern Superchargers.
That means Gibson’s own assistant, Ali Maiden, will take charge of this season’s 50-over team, gaining support from the likes of Kabir Ali, Tim Boon, James Lowe and Tom Smith.
“It was a really fun tournament last year. The way Rich Pyrah ran it, it was very relaxed, ‘Go out, enjoy yourself and entertain the crowd’,” continued Fraine.
“We had a great bunch of young lads who have grown up together.
“Ali, I’m sure will be exactly the same. He’s a very relaxed guy, great to work with. I’m sure he’ll want us to play that way as well.
“White ball cricket, especially the way it’s played in England, is about expressing yourself and entertaining. We have a lot of lads who suit that style and take the aggressive option.”
Fraine, now 26, was one of more experienced heads last season, with his blistering 69 not out in a shortened game against Derbyshire at Chesterfield his standout innings at the top of the order.
He had also scored a warm-up century against this week’s opponents Northumberland in a big win at Scarborough.
“Northumberland have plenty of decent players in their team, so it’s a very useful fixture for us to get used to facing the white ball again,” he said.
Fraine is in confident mood. He has had a largely frustrating summer so far, in and out of Yorkshire’s teams. But the last couple of weeks have been very productive for the exciting Huddersfield-born right-hander.
He hit a crucial 32 not out at the end of Yorkshire’s innings in the Vitality Blast quarter-final at Surrey before taking a superb catch at deep backward square-leg with the game on the line in the final over.
In the first innings of this week’s Championship match against Hampshire at Scarborough, he hit a crucial 53 to help Yorkshire recover from strife at 33-6.
“Selection is what selection is,” he said. “It can be frustrating at times. But I’m also aware that form looks after itself. I’m a grown up man and know that I need to perform to earn a place in the side. That’s ok, I’ll work hard.
“I had a couple of quiet games in the T20s, got left out and then got Covid. But I played in the quarter-final and it worked out.
“I haven’t played a lot this year, in and out of the T20s.
“Yorkshire is a place where we have such good players. Internationals who come back at a moment’s notice and you miss out.
“I’ve felt good this year in the Championship, against Warwickshire and at Hampshire down there. I felt so fluent, but I had a few unlucky dismissals – caught behind down leg, run out backing up.
“The positive I’m taking is the last couple of seasons, 2020 and 2021, I was nowhere with my game. I just wasn’t feeling confident. This year, I’ve got a technique I trust. It’s as simple as I’m defending well.
“White ball cricket, I’m stronger at naturally. But I have got confidence against the red ball now as well.
“I’ve worked really hard this year, starting in the winter. I went to Zimbabwe off my own back and came back full of confidence and with a technique that works.
“It showed at Scarborough. I had success against the best attack in the country, and my defence held up.”
Fingers crossed, over the next few weeks Fraine can harness that defence with the attack he has shown regularly in white ball cricket over the last couple of seasons.
If he does, Yorkshire may be in for a memorable few weeks.
Yorkshire’s nine players with Hundred contracts are: Jonny Bairstow, Harry Brook, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Adam Lyth, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jordan Thompson and David Willey.
Matthew Fisher also had a contract with Birmingham Phoenix, but he is out injured.
Northumberland vs Yorkshire – Friendly – Sunday 31 July
This friendly fixture will take place at South Northumberland Cricket Club. Tickets are on sale from Northumberland Cricket Board’s ticketing website.