Ottis Gibson is hoping David Willey’s time at the Indian Premier League can give Yorkshire a bit of something extra in their push for a place at Finals Day in the Vitality Blast.
The dynamic all-rounder returns for his first game of the summer and will captain the Vikings in tomorrow’s clash with Derbyshire Falcons at Headingley (6.30pm).
Willey has spent the last two months with Royal Challengers Bangalore, helping them reach the semi-finals of that competition.
“He’s just gone to the play-offs with RCB, and he might have picked up a few things they are doing out in the IPL that he can add to what we are doing here,” said coach Gibson.
“We have a good squad, but they may be little one percenters that can make us better.”
Gibson and Willey will be uniting for the first time in Yorkshire colours this week, but they know each other well having been together as player and bowling coach with the Multan Sultans at the Pakistan Super League through February and March.
“We were in the same team with Multan, and we spoke a lot about the game and the team and the characters. He knows how to get the best out of these lads.
“He’s the captain, that’s the main thing. He knows the lads very well.
“We’ll miss Rooty, but it’s going to be great to have him back at the helm.
“We’ll continue to try and push the group forwards.
“Finals Day is something we believe we can achieve with the squad we have, and that’s our focus.”
Willey, 32, played the first four games of the IPL but hasn’t done since following the late arrival of the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Josh Hazlewood in the Bangalore squad.
“He has fresh legs and will be full of enthusiasm,” said Gibson.
“Hopefully he’ll be a breath of fresh air around the place.
“Even though it’s only the end of May, we’ve had a lot of cricket up until now. It will be nice to have his fresh approach and to see how he can energise the lads.”
Yorkshire will be without Harry Brook and Joe Root, who have linked up with England’s Test squad at Lord’s ahead of the New Zealand series, starting on Thursday.
“Hopefully Brooky can make his debut at Lord’s,” said Gibson. “That would be amazing for him.
“If not, we hope they will release him so that he can play for us on Friday night against Durham.
“He is the most in-form batter in the country and deserves to make his debut. Hopefully they’ll put him in the team and let him go and score runs like he has done for us.
“If not, hopefully they let him come back and carry on making runs for us. Either way, it’s a win win for him.”
Gibson was peeved by defeat to Leicestershire at Headingley yesterday, when the visitors posted 188-7 and won by 31 runs. But not too much.
“We got out-bowled on our own patch, and that doesn’t sit well with me,” he said.
“One thing I say to the lads is, ‘Never too high, never too low’. We lost a game, but we can’t dwell on it because we have another game. We have to stay positive.
“We have a very good team, but we didn’t play to our potential. Tuesday gives us an opportunity to put a lot of those things right. We are looking forward to it.
“We will try and get back on the horse and try and continue the momentum we have created.
“We would have liked for it (Leicester defeat) to not happen, and we’d also like it to be the only one of the season. But anything can happen in this game.”
The key area for improvement, however, is with the ball. In three games so far – a win, a tie and a defeat – Yorkshire have conceded totals of 172-9, 183-7 and 188-7.
“The last ball of Lancashire’s innings (Friday night, tie) went for a boundary and we fell one run short,” said Gibson. “That’s how close the margins are in T20.
“If we want to get to the big dance at Finals Day, we have to take a little bit more ownership as a bowling unit – and in the field as well.
“There are areas we can sharpen up. We conceded a lot of twos to boundary riders and things like that.
“It’s three games into a long tournament, but there are a lot of things we can work on.”
Haris Rauf and Shadab Khan are set for their final appearance before reporting for international duty, though the latter should return after June 12.
But New Zealand batter Finn Allen is due to debut in Friday’s home game against Durham.
Derbyshire, under new leadership like Yorkshire, have won one and lost the other of their two games so far.
Pakistan opening batter Shan Masood is their captain, while former South Africa, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka coach Mickey Arthur is now their head of cricket.
Gibson added: “Mickey is a very experienced coach with a decent squad of players.
“If I know him, he’ll galvanise that group and get them playing.
“They will have solid plans. But you can have the best plan in the world, it comes down to execution on the field.
“Hopefully we can execute better than we did against Leicester.”