Spin it to win it could be the key to Yorkshire’s hopes of Vitality Blast success this year, believes coach Ottis Gibson.
Gibson is relishing the prospect of having senior spin options in leggies Shadab Khan and Adil Rashid and offie Dom Bess at his disposal as he prepares for tomorrow’s North Group opener against Worcestershire Rapids at Headingley (6.30pm).
“I think our point of difference this year, certainly in the beginning, is that we’ve got two leg-spinners,” said Gibson.
“The fact we have Rash for a few games first up is fantastic for us and for him because he needs to play some cricket. Shadab was the player of the year in the Pakistan Super League, so he’s going to be outstanding for us.
“That will be a novelty in T20 cricket. Not many teams will have two leg-spinners and two world-class ones as well.
“Dom as well. There is an opportunity to use three spinners. If we can have 12 overs of quality spin, that can suffocate some teams.”
The Vikings will line up for their first three games, including Friday’s Roses blockbuster over at Emirates Old Trafford – live on Sky Sports, with some serious firepower available.
Harry Brook and Joe Root will play before Test duty, while Pakistan overseas duo Khan and fast bowler Haris Rauf will play the first four before returning home for national commitments.
Dawid Malan will also be in the Vikings’ team until England go to the Netherlands for a one-day series (June 17-22), the same with Rashid.
“We have to capitalise on the availability of the players we have and see if we can get off to a good start with some wins and set the platform for what we hope will be a good tournament,” continued Gibson.
“To get to Finals Day would be a fantastic outcome for us this season.”
Gibson was a Blast winner as a player with Leicestershire (2004) and a World T20 winner as a coach of the West Indies (2012). So he knows exactly what qualities a side needs to taste success.
“Having balance all the way through, having people who can play different positions and people that can adapt because the game is always moving and shaping in different ways,” he said.
“We have a lot of options, but the captain (David Willey) will be a miss because this is a format he’s good at.
“Dave has been messaging me from India about various match-ups of the team, who plays where. We’ve looked at these different scenarios. It’s going to be an interesting team to select on Wednesday, but I’m looking forward to it.
“It’s going to be a squad effort if we are to make it to Finals Day.
“There will be a change in personnel, guys coming in and out. But if we can have the same attitude throughout the tournament and individual performances coming from different parts of the group, then that gives us a really good chance of getting to Finals Day.
“We just have to find the right positions for all our different pieces and give them the wings to go out and express themselves, entertain the crowd and win games.”
Tom Kohler-Cadmore is set to keep wicket in his first appearance of the season, against his former county, who were Blast winners themselves in 2018.
They have signed New Zealand all-rounder Colin Munro as one of their two overseas players, who is expected to be available. Dwayne Bravo arrives in a couple of weeks.
Last season’s clash between these two at Headingley will never be forgotten.
Yorkshire slipped to 50-5 in 10.5 overs, only for Harry Brook and Jordan Thompson to share a stunning unbroken 141 for the sixth wicket. Brook made 83 and Thompson 66 to underpin a winning total of 191-5.
It was the highest sixth-wicket partnership in the history of the Blast and the second highest ever in the world for that particular wicket.
Coach Gibson has actually floated the idea of Thompson being rested for this week’s meeting following a heavy schedule of six back-to-back Championship games.
But the all-rounder, who has since played in the Hundred, the Big Bash and the Pakistan Super League, recalled of last year: “It doesn’t seem like two minutes since that night.
“In the situation it occurred, it was massive for both of us. It happened at such a rate of knots. It was nearly a world record.
“After that game, I took massive confidence into the rest of the summer and into the winter. It kick-started quite a good year for me.”
Meanwhile, interim managing director of cricket Darren Gough has spoken of his confidence in Yorkshire’s ability to press strongly for a maiden Blast title.
He said: “When I went back to Yorkshire as captain in 2007, I put a specific emphasis on the one-day and T20 games. I love it. I brought specific roles to individual players.
“When I was there, it was more overseas players for all year rather than specific competitions.
“This time, I’ve tried to bring in overseas for specific competitions. Haris, Shadab and Finn (Allen) will go down as players who play this form of the game very well.
“Ottis is also a winner, a born winner.
“It’s weird how the fixtures have worked, with six of our first seven games at home. But we can hopefully get off to a good start and go from there.
“There are a lot of good teams in the Blast. It’s quite open. Anyone can beat anyone.
“A lot are signing players are showing significant intent.
“A lot have been further ahead of the curve than we have on that over the years, but we’ve entered the race with the players we’ve signed.
“And we also have so many other talented players who’ve done well in this format. Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Lythy, Thompson and Willey. Our youngsters as well, whether it be Revis, Loten, Wharton. They will all get an opportunity to impress.”
The Blast format is unchanged for 2022, although Finals Day is earlier – on July 16 at Edgbaston.
This is the first of 14 North Group games. The top four teams out of nine qualify for the quarter-finals.