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SECOND-TEAM SUCCESS DELIGHTS SMITH

— 7 October 2022

Five wins, six different centurions, seven hauls of five wickets or more, the leading bowler in the competition, an individual score of 441 and 40 different players used.

These are the standout statistics behind Yorkshire’s Second XI Championship title success of 2022.

The county clinched the title – Yorkshire’s first since 2003 – with a draw against Kent at Folkstone last month.

Ten four-day games were played in total, including a friendly against the South Asian Cricket Academy, and left-arm spinner Harry Sullivan claimed 49 wickets (six of them came in that friendly).

Fin Bean was the top-scorer with 589 runs, including that record-breaking 441 in a draw against Nottinghamshire at Lady Bay – the highest score in the history of the competition.

“It was a great achievement from the guys to take the title,” said second-team coach Tom Smith.

“We’ve used a lot of different players, so to come out on top at the end was really good.”

With the competition not being played out across a set number of games, the title is decided on an average points per game basis, and Yorkshire went into that final game against Kent at Folkstone knowing they would need a 10-point haul to be named champions ahead of Glamorgan.

With five wins and four draws, the county finished on 18 ahead of the Welshmen on 17.5.

Smith continued: “To be brutally honest, I didn’t exactly know our situation until we were going into the last game when our scorer, John Virr, mentioned to me that we were top of the league.

“With the average points thing in the seconds, it’s hard to work out exactly where you are.

“I knew we’d be somewhere close because we hadn’t lost a game.”

Smith’s lack of clarity on Yorkshire’s position in the title race ahead of the long trip to Folkstone indicates the priorities involved with second-team cricket.

He said: “My philosophy in second-team cricket is, ‘You’re going to win games and you’re going to lose games. It’s about putting lads in pressure situations’.

“This year we’ve chased down 300 plus twice to win games, one against Essex and one against Derbyshire. They were two really good wins.

“Our view on the seconds, chatting with Ottis Gibson, is that it’s about development and younger guys coming through. We’re trying to get guys ready for first-team cricket.

“We’ve managed to come out on top this year, but next year might be different – we might have to fill a gap there, play such a player here.

“There’s a lot of moving parts with the second team. But, ultimately, we’re always going out there to win a game of cricket.”

Senior players such as Gary Ballance, Ben Coad and Matthew Fisher all contributed – the latter captained the team during the final fortnight of their campaign as he returned from injury – but the development of younger players is more notable.

Left-handed opener Bean’s contribution, therefore, stands out.

Bean, aged 20, left Yorkshire’s Academy at the end of 2020 and started 2022 playing YPL North cricket for York and working as a mechanic.

He ended it in the first-team, facing county champions Surrey at the Oval.

Smith said: “We’ve created an opportunity for a batter like that to come in and do really well. He came in, played first-team cricket and has been a really good standout for the rest of the lads and the club.

“That’s been really good to go out into the leagues, see who’s out there and give some games to lads.

“Fin’s a brilliant example of that. He’d been doing well in league cricket, and all of a sudden he’s opening the batting at Headingley and the Oval and playing in a Roses game over at Old Trafford.

“That shows how strong the league system is in Yorkshire.

“Tim Boon has been a massive help with that this year. He’s been out and about every weekend watching club cricket, seeing who’s doing well and seeing if there are any players who’ve missed the net and if we can give them a go.

“I’ve been very impressed with what Fin’s done in the first team.

“When you see players come into the first-team environment and have some success, players start to figure you out. You always have to keep evolving.

“He will have learnt a lot from his first few games. He’ll have seen things that might not happen at second-team level and club level – going to play against a Surrey attack of Worrall, Roach, Overton and Clark.

“It will be an important winter coming up for him.”

Smith, a former Championship winner as a player with Lancashire and a county captain, is forging an impressive coaching career.

He arrived at Headingley from Leicestershire, where he worked with the first and second teams, and was part of the staff which supported England’s women as they won the one-day World Cup on home soil in 2017. Ali Maiden was also part of that success.

As an all-rounder, Smith gained recognition at England Lions level, but the now 36-year-old had to retire early in 2017 due to a long-standing back injury.

He, therefore, had a part to play in the return from injury of Coad (groin) and Fisher (stress fracture of back) from their respective ailments this summer.

“It’s never nice being injured as a bowler,” he said. “It’s never nice being injured as a sportsperson full stop.

“To have the ability to empathise with lads in those situations having gone through it myself has hopefully been a positive.

“We’ve had some good conversations about returning to play and the anxieties that come with it after a long-term injury.

“The medical guys have done really well to get them back on the park.”

Now, attention will turn to preparing for 2023.

“We have to stay level,” added Smith. “We’ll all start on the same level playing field next year, and it’s about building again from there.

“But it’s been a really fun year. We’ve got a new coaching staff, and I’ve really enjoyed being a part of it.”

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