Ali Maiden wants his Yorkshire team to take the aggressive option in this summer’s Royal London Cup, with yesterday’s friendly win against Northumberland the ideal start.

The Vikings racked up 290-5 in only 23 overs against the National Counties side, winning by 148 runs.

Their campaign proper starts at York tomorrow when Northamptonshire visit Clifton Park for the opening Group B fixture (11am),

The Steelbacks will obviously be a significant step up in standard, a side who have only lost one player to the Hundred compared to Yorkshire’s nine. But the Vikings’ mindset should still be the same, says their assistant coach in charge of the RL50 side in Ottis Gibson’s absence.

“My view as a coach is that we want to dominate the opposition,” said Maiden.

“Through the history of the game, teams who have dominated have always looked to be positive. The great Australian team, their mantra was to score at four an over – 400 in a day.

“Teams who have looked to move the game forwards have always looked to be aggressive and dominant.”

The Vikings are aiming to back up last season’s knockout stage qualification when young players shone.

“I have my own ideas on how we want to play, but I also have an understanding of what happened last year and the make-up of the team,” continued Maiden.

“Because that seemed to work, and the lads seemed to have success and played in the way I’ve talked about, initially we will carry on with that.

“A couple of my main focuses in terms of progressing from the T20s are running between the wickets and our fielding. I think this team should be looking to be more athletic and aggressive in those two areas, in particular. I would say we weren’t particularly good at that in the T20s.

“You don’t know quite who the opposition will have out, but we will focus on trying to get better and trying to improve. We’ll see where we end up in the competition.

“Someone asked me recently, ‘Do you want to win the competition?’

“I don’t think you can focus on that, but we will be focusing on winning every game in front of us. By focusing on each game, each day, George Hill for example might get better at finishing games off. If he does and finishes not out more often than not, we’ll win more games.

“If Ben Cliff gets better at bowling his death overs, we’ll win more games of cricket. All of a sudden, you might end up in a final.

“If we play against a team who have kept all their players from the Hundred and we lose, hopefully we’ll take some really big learnings.

“It will be great fun, and the lads are excited about it. It seems to be one of the highlights of their summer.

“Some see it as a second-tier competition. But when the lads are really excited about it, it adds extra importance.

“I’m really excited too. Hopefully by the end of it, I’ll be able to go to Ottis and say, ‘He’s done this well, he’s improved that, and we’ve also done really well as a team’.”

As Gary Ballance and Will Fraine were smacking Northumberland’s bowlers to all part of Gosforth on Sunday, Maiden sat there, smiled and joked: “It’s Ali-ball!”

“It will be a rollercoaster. But I’m excited, and the lads are excited. That’s the most important thing,” he said.

Yorkshire head into this competition amongst the favourites for silverware. Fingers crossed, the bookmakers are correct.

If that does come to pass, it means the Vikings will have triumphed over a number of counties whose teams include some overseas talent.

This next week’s trio of opponents for example, Northants, Lancashire and Worcestershire, are set to include Will Young, Washington Sundar and Azhar Ali respectively.

Maiden revealed the Yorkshire management considered following suit, but opted not to.

“We had chats about it, and the discussion centred around a lot of lads having one-year contracts or being in their last year,” explained Maiden.

“If you sign an overseas and those lads miss out, how do you make decisions on their future when they haven’t had a chance to show what they can do? We feel this competition provides us with more value by playing the younger lads.

“Other teams have signed players and we haven’t. It was a strategic decision on our part, which might change next year.

“Ottis has said all along that we are new and are finding out about players.

“When we had all the injuries and he was asked about the potential for loan players, he said, ‘No, I want to give lads here the chance to show what they can do’. By the end of the year, we can make educated decisions on them.”

Squad

Fin Bean, Ben Cliff, Harry Duke (W), Will Fraine, George Hill, Will Luxton, Tom Loten, Mathew Revis, Jack Shutt, Harry Sullivan, Jonny Tattersall ©, Matthew Waite.

Gary Ballance is unfortunately unavailable having tested positive for Covid-19.

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