Surrey’s cricketers will arrive at Headingley tomorrow looking for what would be only their second win in ten County Championship visits to Yorkshire since 1992.
However, even after Wednesday’s thrilling draw at Trent Bridge, the White Rose director of cricket, Martyn Moxon, has admitted Andrew Gale’s players have room for improvement following their third successive Division One match without a victory.
‘I’m not too disappointed, although it’s fair to say that we’ve not quite been at our best,’ said Moxon. ‘I think there’s been little periods or sessions where we haven’t performed well enough to win the game, and it’s cost us an opportunity. We’ve room for improvement, but we’re not far away would be my assessment of the first three games.
‘To win games on the pitches we’re currently playing on, and the opposition we have, given the strength of the division, you’ve got to be on your game for the whole four days, and we’ve not quite been able to do that.
And Moxon knows that a side featuring players of the quality of Kumar Sangakkara will offer Yorkshire’s players a proper test of their abilities and competitive instincts.
‘There’s no easy game in the first division.’ he said. ‘You can’t look down the list and think “oh, we should win that one” anymore. It’s very much a case of you’ve got to earn the right. Surrey lost at Trent Bridge in the first week of the season, but they’ve since had two decent draws.
‘It’s not an easy match, but what we’re looking to do is play our A game for longer. We know that if we do, we’re capable of winning any match in this division. If we’re not, then we can find ourselves in trouble.’
Nevertheless, as Moxon reflected on a televised match against Nottinghamshire that was an absolute credit to the County Championship, he was pleased that the decision to try to chase down 320 in 53 overs was instigated by the players themselves.
‘The pleasing thing for me and Dizzy was that it was the lads who wanted to go for it,’ he disclosed. ‘But we had to make sure we got ourselves in at the start as we couldn’t afford to be 20-3 again chasing 320 in 53 overs.
‘There was no talk of going for it initially, but once Leesy and Gary set the foundation, the lads wanted to have a go at it.’ he disclosed.
‘Realistically, we knew it was going to be a big ask as once we put them under pressure, it was obvious they were going to go with seven to nine men on the boundary, and it’s very hard to score 10 an over against that. It was always going to be tough, but at least we gave it a good shot.’
And Moxon was also delighted to see Alex Lees find his very best form with innings of 92 and 107.
‘Alex is an important player for us, particularly as one-day captain now as well,’ he said. ‘I thought his second-innings hundred was a fantastic innings, and he looked to be back to his best.
‘That was a real positive from this week. He sets himself high standards, so he was frustrated. He’s been looking at his game and trying to identify a route back into form. It’s been a tricky time for him. But that’s all part of a player’s development.
‘He’s gone through a difficult period, and coming out the other end, he will learn a lot about your game and about yourself. In the long run, he will be better for this experience, I’m sure.’
Yorkshire have named a 13-man squad for the game at Headingley, adding Will Rhodes and James Wainman to the eleven who played at Trent Bridge.
Squad: Gale (Captain), Bairstow (Wicketkeeper), Ballance, Brooks, Lees, Lyth, Patterson, Plunkett, Rashid, Rhodes, Root, Wainman. Willey.
Tim Bresnan is recovering well from his torn calf and is expected to play for the Second XI against Kent next week.