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PREVIEW: WORCESTERSHIRE RAPIDS V YORKSHIRE VIKINGS (T20)

— 21 June 2022

Yorkshire’s players are being urged to play “front foot cricket” in their bid for silverware.

That is a phrase used by coach Ottis Gibson, who is plotting the Vikings’ route to Finals Day at Edgbaston on Saturday July 16.

It is a route which has been far from straightforward so far, for example against Derbyshire Falcons at Chesterfield on Saturday when they lost a rain-reduced 10-over game as the hosts chased a revised target of 105, including achieving 19 off the last over.

The defeat contributed to the Vikings currently sitting outside the top four quarter-final qualifying places in the North Group ahead of Thursday’s trip to face Worcestershire Rapids at New Road (5.30pm).

However, Gibson, captain David Willey and interim managing director of cricket Darren Gough are all on the same page when it comes to the style of play they believe will achieve success.

And they want the players to plough on through any such setbacks by taking the shackles off and maintaining the aggressive intent.

“We’re trying to win every game, but it’s also the way we want to play,” said Gibson.

“We want to be positive and aggressive, to take the game on and put the bowlers under pressure. We want to play front foot cricket, as I call it.

“When the opposition look down at our team sheet and they see Allen, Lyth, Malan, Kohler-Cadmore, Brook and all our other players, we want them to think, ‘Wow, this is a strong batting line-up’.

“We know not all of them are going to come off at the same time, but one or two in T20 cricket usually makes a difference.”

In many ways, Finn Allen, the New Zealand opening batter, typifies that dynamic approach alongside partner Adam Lyth.

The prime example came when the 23-year-old smoked his first ball against Derbyshire – the second of the match – high and handsome over long-on. He went on make 37 off 17 balls.

Though he is still searching for his first Vikings fifty, he has already played three eye-catching innings in four appearances; 29 off 12 balls in the home win against Durham and 48 off 24 in the away win against the same opponents.

“We’ve played well up front,” said Gibson.

“We have a clear strategy with Lythy and Finn up front. They go very hard and get us off to a good start. Then we try and keep it brewing all the way through the middle and so on.

“The way Finn has always played is that way. He takes it on early, and he puts you in a position to be 50 or 60 inside the powerplay.

“If he gets out, he’s given us a great start – a fast start. Then, when we have our best team, the likes of Malan and TKC and Brook are able to come in and play around him.

“In an ideal world, you’d like him to bat for 20 overs, but he’s doing a fine job for us.”

As you will have deduced, there is certainly no panic following Saturday’s reverse: “Of course we were disappointed, but the games come around quickly in this format so you can’t afford to carry your disappointment too far with you,” said Gibson.

“Over the course of 20 overs, I feel we’d have had enough to win that game. But any time the game is shortened, the team that is fielding is always the one under the most pressure.

“We’ve had two rain-affected against Derbyshire that they’ve won and two which have gone all the way down to the last ball against Lancashire that potentially we could have won as well. But that’s the game. That’s the way the game is.

“I said to the players, ‘That’s the nature of sport – you win some, you lose some and you have to move on’.”

Worcestershire, champions in 2018 and beaten finalists in 2019, are bottom of the North Group with one win from 10 games, including eight defeats.

They should field overseas duo Colin Munro, the New Zealand batter, and former West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo.

“They have good players,” added Gibson. “In T20 cricket, one good performance – Du Plooy against Derbyshire, for example – can change the game.

“We’re not going to take them lightly, and we need to be on the top of our game – all facets of our game need to be strong.”

Yorkshire expect to have their England white ball players – captain Willey, Dawid Malan and Adil Rashid – back for Friday’s clash with Northamptonshire at Wantage Road. Worcestershire, therefore, are also set to be missing Moeen Ali for Thursday’s meeting.

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