Harry Duke is hoping Yorkshire’s second-team success in 2022 can be a significant stepping stone towards higher honours for the county club in the next few years.
Wicketkeeper batter Duke, 21, played a significant part in Championship title glory through the latter half of the summer, featuring in six four-day games.
Duke, who captained the side at stages, posted a trio of scores in the eighties, one further fifty and a century, the latter coming in the draw against Nottinghamshire in June that will forever be remembered for Fin Bean’s remarkable 441.
“I don’t think I’ve seen an innings like it,” said Duke of his team-mate’s record-breaking heroics.
“It was unbelievable from Beany.
“I’ve played with him since he was 10 and have always known he’s had that ability to bat for a long time. I didn’t quite think it would be that long, but what a knock.”
Duke and Bean are amongst a group of similarly aged players who either played their part in the second-team title success in question or have just broken into the first team and have the opportunity to make a significant mark over the coming seasons.
“The young lads who have come through the Academy together – myself, George Hill, James Wharton, Matty Revis and Dom Leech – we’re really close and have shown what we can do,” continued Duke.
“Hopefully in the next few years we can be the ones helping to drive the first team forwards.
“It would be nice to be able to look back on the success we had in the seconds and know that it played its part in us doing exactly the same in the first team.”
Wakefield-born Duke started last summer as first choice wicketkeeper, though struggled for form and was replaced midway through the campaign by Jonny Tattersall.
“Whilst it’s always disappointing to get left out, I was really pleased with the way I went about it – going back to the second team and putting in some decent performances,” he continued.
“It was a pretty inexperienced second team, so I got the opportunity to lead the side, which was nice for me.
“At the start of the year, I didn’t think I’d be doing something like that. I really enjoyed that challenge, and I feel like I’ve benefitted massively from it.
“It’s been quite a few years since Yorkshire last won the Championship at second-team level, and it was a nice little period for myself and the other lads.
“It’s great credit to Smudge (Tom Smith, coach) and the way he ran the team and looked after us.
“I didn’t get the chance to lift the trophy because I was in the first team for the last game of the season, but it was great to see the guys bring it home from Kent.”
Duke’s productive return to the seconds was married with some encouraging form against the white ball when the One-Day Cup was played through August.
He was the Vikings’ leading run-scorer with 330 runs in eight matches, including a superb 111 in the high-scoring victory over Northamptonshire at York. He just pipped opening partner Will Fraine (328 runs) and also claimed five catches and two stumpings behind the stumps.
Duke continued: “I thought the lads who came in from the seconds actually came in with a lot of positivity from the success they’d had – Ben Cliff made his debuted and bowled nicely – and we were unlucky not to win another couple of games and qualify for the knockouts.
“We all learnt massively from that competition.
“For me, I really enjoyed opening the batting with Frainey. I think we complement each other really well.”
Duke believes consistency will be the key to success for him in 2023 – in his training and mindset as well as performances.
He has enjoyed a busy but productive winter so far and is amongst a group of batters who are swapping indoor training at Headingley for the sunnier climes of India and a 10-day training camp.
Added to this, he is currently in the second year of a Business Management degree at Leeds University.
“It’s actually helped me make the most of each training session because I know that two hours later I could be sat in a seminar with my head in books,” he smiled. “It’s been a bit of a challenge balancing it all, but I’m really enjoying it.”
Come April, though, it will be full concentration on his work with the bat and gloves in order to try and ensure the county bounce back to Division One as quickly as possible.
“That’s the goal, and it’s been reflected in the way we’ve been training. We’re all pushing each other on,” he added. “We can’t wait for the season to get going now.”