Learn from but don’t dwell on past performances is Shan Masood’s message to his Yorkshire players ahead of a key week in their season, starting against Nottinghamshire in the Vitality Blast at Trent Bridge tomorrow.
The Vikings travel to the East Midlands (6.30pm) looking for their first win across all competitions in 2023, in fact their first since late last August.
Yorkshire suffered back-to-back defeats at Worcestershire and at home to Durham over the weekend, making it three games without a win at the start of the North Group.
The Pakistani overseas captain felt the first was “freakish” after a positive performance, with tail-ender Adam Finch hitting 19 off the last over to win it for the hosts. The second, against Durham, came about as Yorkshire were below standard.
But Masood is confident an upturn in fortunes is on the way, saying: “You have to keep believing. There are 11 games left in this group stage.
“We have two great opponents coming up, Nottingham and Lancs. If you win against them, you know where the confidence can go.
“It’s about believing in getting that result. Who knows, maybe fate works in funny ways and we’re destined to start off our season by winning against Notts and Lancs.
“You have to take every day as a new day. You can’t sit back on the past. Yes, it’s been hard. But everything good and worthwhile is hard.
“We’re struggling to finish off results and to gather that momentum that would lead us into having a decent season. But we need to realise that until 40 overs are done in T20 cricket, nothing is guaranteed, as Finch showed the other day.
“We have to accept what’s happened and be honest with ourselves.
“We should know that this isn’t good enough and we have to bounce back, starting at Notts.
“We have some heavy fixtures coming, whether that be the number of games we’re playing or the kind of teams we’re playing. We have to bounce back.
“Process and standard should be a priority, and there shouldn’t be any compromises. Results will go in our favour once we get these things right.”
Yorkshire have so far lost to Birmingham, Worcestershire and Durham in this season’s Blast, and they face perennial challengers Notts next and then early pacesetters Lancashire.
Notts have won one and lost one so far and are facing Durham at the Seat Unique Riverside this evening.
“I feel, and I’m being very honest, that we’ve had more quality than the three sides that we’ve played with all due respect to the opposition,” said Masood. “But sides have come up against us and got things right. So far we haven’t done that.
“I keep stressing wherever I’ve played my cricket that last year at Derby we had four losses from the first six games and ended up winning six out of the next seven and finished with nine wins.”
One positive so far in the Blast has been the form of 20-year-old leg-spinner Jafer Chohan, who has encouraged with ball and bat in his first three senior career appearances.
He has claimed one wicket in three matches and hit a debut 37 down the order against Birmingham.
“This time is something that can define him as a cricketer, when you get thrown in at the deep end,” said Masood.
“There was a practice game (earlier this month), and I asked him to come on and bowl to the shorter boundary just because I felt he would be starting for us and should take and embrace that pressure. If somebody does that job with his head held high, that’s what I want.”
If Yorkshire are to win at Trent Bridge, you feel they will have to negate the threat of Masood’s international colleague, the tall left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi, who is one of the Outlaws’ two overseas players alongside former New Zealand batter Colin Munro.
“You have to admit that you’re facing one of the best bowlers in the world and give him that respect. We’ve had some good battles,” said Masood.
“Sometimes he’s had the better of me, and others I’ve had the better of him. It’s something I’m looking forward to. In English conditions, that will be interesting.
“Trent Bridge can be good for batters, but Shaheen in that first over can be good anywhere in the world. Hopefully Lythy and Mala can get some runs off it.
“When you play this game, you want to play against the best.”
Afridi is a superstar of Pakistan cricket and, alongside Masood and David Wiese, is amongst a number of eye-catching overseas signings in the Blast.
Lancashire, opponents on Thursday, for example, have also signed in-form New Zealand all-rounder Daryl Mitchell.
Masood added: “I think the Blast itself…I always say that this is the best white ball team in the world, England. And if you want to improve as a white ball cricketer, you have to play here.
“I think that’s what a lot of foreign players are realising. Naseem Shah has got a gig for Leicestershire, Haider Ali is here with Derbyshire.
“Whether it’s people from Pakistan I personally know or people from abroad, everyone is coming here.
“It just shows how good domestic cricket is in England, especially when it comes to white ball.”