Ottis Gibson is hoping Haris Rauf can sign off from four-day duty at Yorkshire with a bang this week.
The Pakistan fast bowler will play the final LV= Insurance County Championship game of his short-term overseas spell with the county when champions Warwickshire visit Headingley on Thursday (11am).
It will be Rauf’s fifth game in six weeks, though he will remain with Yorkshire to play in the Vitality Blast until June 3.
Rauf has so far taken 15 wickets in four games, leaving him as the county’s leading wicket-taker at the start of 2022. It is a return which includes the 28-year-old’s maiden career five-wicket haul – 5-65 in the home draw against Kent late last month.
The Rawalpindi-born star’s main asset is his searing pace, something which Gibson is hoping will be clear against the Bears this week after he had felt his way somewhat in the most recent game against Lancashire having only just returned from a week out with a side niggle.
“The surface wasn’t very helpful for him,” said the coach. “He was coming off an injury, so he was moving a little bit gingerly.
“Hopefully, this week coming, he will be in a better position than he was.
“His pace has been an asset to us, but I don’t think he was able to reach top pace against Lancashire.
“He has to figure it out, as an international bowler, when conditions are difficult in terms of pace, then develop other skills to influence the game. But he’s young and is learning. We will continue to help him grow as a bowler going forwards.”
Prior to joining Yorkshire, Rauf had made his name in one-day and T20 cricket and had only played four first-class games in his career.
“I think he’s learnt a bit (whilst at Yorkshire),” continued Gibson.
“In Pakistan, when the pitches are flat the ball reverses a bit. You can still use that as a weapon. Here, they have been flat and the ball’s not reversed that much for him.
“What he’s learning is that there’s still a natural length to bowl even though you can bowl 150kph or whatever. He’s having to learn that the hard way because as soon as he’s off line, it’s easy to score runs off him.
“The first game against Gloucester, he bowled brilliantly. At Northampton, he bowled us into the game on the final morning before the pitch went flat.
“We’ve relied on his pace. He’s got one more four-day game to really make an impact.
“If he can help us win the next game, then the five or six weeks that he’s been here will have been valuable for us but hopefully valuable for him as well.”
Yorkshire and Warwickshire sit fourth and fifth in Division One, separated by only six points. While Yorkshire have won one and drawn four, the Bears have won one, lost one and drawn three.
They beat Essex by 10 wickets at Edgbaston and lost by an innings at Somerset. Around that have been draws against Surrey, Lancashire and, most recently, Northamptonshire at Edgbaston last week.
In that game, both sides posted nearly 600 in their first innings. Sam Hain scored 202 not out for the hosts, who continue to be captained by former Yorkshire all-rounder Will Rhodes.
They have added former Lancashire wicketkeeper Alex Davies to their squad for this season as well as Australian seam bowler Nathan McAndrew as their overseas player.
Ex-Yorkshire seamer Oliver Hannon-Dalby has started the season impressively with 19 wickets.
“Every game is a tough game,” said Gibson.
“The wicket against Kent here was a very good wicket. I thought the Lancashire wicket was also a very good one. But, with a bowling attack a little bit more tired than they were two weeks ago, once the hardness went out of the ball it became a little bit too easy.
“The guys have had a couple of days off. Hopefully they have freshened up for the Warwickshire game. Mind over matter is what we need for this game.
“Hopefully we can get a win and finish this block of six games in a good position.”
Gibson is nearly three months into his first coaching role in county cricket. And, with the first third of the season nearly completed, it seems a good time to reflect on how he has viewed things.
“It’s been good. I’ve enjoyed it,” he added.
“Two things you are trying to do is win games and develop players.
“If you look at the development – Revis, Duke as a keeper, Hill has played every game and is starting to look the player that everybody thinks he’s going to be – it’s been good from that point of view.
“We got off to a great start with a win, and I started to think we could win every game! As you know, that’s not how it’s turned out.
“But Lancashire is the only game where we’ve really been dominated and outplayed. We just need to suck it up and focus on the next game.”
Matthew Fisher, Ben Coad and Dom Leech remain sidelined with back, hamstring and side injuries respectively.
Dawid Malan will rest this game having experienced a sore achilles.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore continues his return to training played in a number of T20 games for the Second XI last week.
13-player squad to take on Warwickshire
Dom Bess, Harry Brook, Harry Duke (WK), Will Fraine, George Hill, Tom Loten, Will Luxton, Adam Lyth, Steven Patterson ©, Haris Rauf, Matthew Revis, Joe Root, Jordan Thompson.