Former one-day Cup title winner Kabir Ali has urged Yorkshire’s players to enjoy the task of keeping their own hopes of glory alive when they face his former side Hampshire at Scarborough tomorrow (11am).
The Vikings travel to North Marine Road knowing a victory over Group B leaders Hampshire – what would be their fifth in eight games – will qualify them for Friday’s quarter-final eliminator clash for the second year running.
However, with a one-point lead over chasing duo Kent and reigning champions Glamorgan, it could be that Yorkshire qualify even without a win and go on to play the team who finishes second in Group A away from home.
“The boys have worked really hard over the last few weeks, said Ali, one of Yorkshire’s two assistant coaches.
“When it comes down to the crunch, if you haven’t cut any corners then you have a great chance of coming out on the right side of the result.
“You win some, you lose some. But the key is to enjoy it.
“We have a young side, and we just try to keep them calm and make sure they concentrate on delivering those skills.
“There will be pressure, but Hampshire will be under the pump as well because they know we’re a good side and they have their own things to aim for.
“We’re not scared of anyone at all. We believe we can beat any team we come up against.
“The main thing I want to see from the lads is them enjoying it.”
Ali is a former Clydesdale Bank 40 winner, the RL50’s predecessor. He did it with Hampshire in 2012 when they beat Warwickshire on fewer wickets lost following a thrilling tie as the Bears fell agonisingly short when chasing 245.
The former England seamer was defending seven off the final over and one off the final ball and achieved the unlikely.
“I played three years at Hampshire, and I enjoyed myself there. It was good,” he recalled. “I wasn’t playing in the run-up to that game for whatever reason. So it was nice to play and contribute.
“I always practiced my skills really well, and it paid off on that day. It was a great day for me to remember.”
Hampshire have already qualified for the knockout stages, but they head to North Marine Road knowing that a seventh win in eight games will secure them direct qualification for the semi-finals, thus avoiding the eliminator fixture.
The Nick Gubbins captained side are a point ahead of Lancashire in the Group B table and have won 15 out of their last 16 matches in all competitions, including against Yorkshire at Scarborough in the Championship last month.
“It will be a good game,” said Ali. “Hampshire are a good, young and solid side. They’re top of the table, so they know how to win games. We’re looking forward to it.”
Yes there will be pressure on tomorrow’s game. But Yorkshire’s players have shown they can deal with it, holding their nerve to beat Derbyshire at Chesterfield yesterday when chasing 110 to win by one wicket on a nightmare pitch for batting.
Ben Coad has been instrumental to Yorkshire’s progression to the verge of qualification.
The seamer has taken eight wickets in seven games at a fabulous economy rate of 3.91 runs per over. There are seven bowlers with a better economy rate in the competition, but none of them have played as many games as Coad has.
“Coady has been brilliant throughout this competition,” added Ali. “He has ever since he’s come back from injury. His experience has shown.
“We’ve missed him quite a lot this season – his experience, his energy.
“If you look at this competition, he’s been our standout bowler. To go at two an over in a few games, even under like he did (against Derbyshire), is unbelievable in a white ball competition.”
Fin Bean, Dom Bess, Ben Coad, Harry Duke (W), Will Fraine, George Hill, Will Luxton, Tom Loten, Mathew Revis, Jack Shutt, Harry Sullivan, Jonny Tattersall ©, Matthew Waite.