By Graham Hardcastle
Yorkshire will take on title-chasing Somerset at the Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton from Tuesday (10.30am) with nothing to lose, says batsman Tom Kohler-Cadmore.
With three rounds remaining in this season’s Specsavers County Championship, Yorkshire are third in Division One having won five of 11 games.
They are 37 points behind leaders Essex and 35 adrift of second-placed Somerset.
While remaining in the title race, they are very much outsiders. But that means, according to Kohler-Cadmore, they can play with freedom against a side they defeated by an innings at Emerald Headingley in July.
He said: “We’re in with a chance, which is nice. But we’re not the ones under pressure. It’s going to be hard to win the title, no doubt. We’re underdogs. This is a bit of a free hit.
“There’s pressure on Essex and Somerset. But even if we win and they both lose, they’d still have 15 points or so on us.
“If we can put a big performance in and win, we’ll still be in the hunt with Kent and Warwickshire to play. Two more wins there, and you never know.
“The main thing is just doing what we’ve done all season – back our processes and stay calm. If we do, we’ll win the game.”
Yorkshire started the season talking up a transitional period with a developing squad, and there have been signs of significant encouragement.
Their haul of five wins already matches or betters their haul of wins in each of the past three seasons.
In 2016, when they were pipped to a third successive title on the final day of the season by Middlesex at Lord’s, they won five times and finished third.
In 2017, the finished fourth with four wins. Last season, they also finished fourth with five wins.
“We’ve learnt a lot and people have performed well. It’s been a decent year in this format, but next year we want to be better,” added Kohler-Cadmore.
Coach Andrew Gale agrees with the 25-year-old, even admitting things have gone better than expected.
“It probably has gone a little bit better than we expected. We’re not looking down, we’re looking up. That’s a positive,” said the former Championship-winning captain.
“I think blokes are learning quickly. We’ve given them opportunities, and we’ve seen that.
“Harry (Brook) had to go through a tough learning period at the start of the season, but he came back in the middle order and got a hundred.
“Tom (Kohler-Cadmore) is starting to make more contributions, Will Fraine’s come into the team and done well at the top of the order with Adam Lyth.
“Lythy’s form has also been excellent. Although he hasn’t got that big match-winning hundred, he’s had a good season.
“Ben Coad’s going from strength to strength, and Duanne (Olivier) has been a big plus. He gives us something a bit different with his pace when nothing’s happening.
“Then, you add a frontline spinner into the team in Keshav Maharaj, it makes a hell of a difference.
“There’s still lots of areas we can improve, but we’re working hard.”
South African Test left-arm spinner Maharaj will play his fifth and final Championship game of the summer before resuming international commitments with a Test series in India. New Zealand’s Ajaz Patel will replace him for the final two rounds.
Maharaj has taken 28 wickets in his short-term overseas spell, including 11 in the home win over Somerset. He also took 11 wickets at Taunton last year whilst playing for Lancashire, a game which ended as a tie.