Yorkshire will field two D40 teams in the ECB’s disability competitions in 2023.
The county have opted to create an extra team in a bid to provide greater opportunity for various players across the structure and build on the success of last summer, which saw the D40 and S9 teams finish with promotion and silverware.
It means this year Yorkshire teams will play in the D40 National Quest and Pursuit North Leagues as well as the S9 Regional North League.
Owen Jervis, manager for the senior D40 team, explained the move: “Both our teams won their respective competitions last year,” he said.
“But there were some players in the middle of the two teams who were playing hardball games and not getting a bat or bowl but dominating the softball competition where they were playing above their level.
“We have a natural group of players who we need to create more of an opportunity for.
“It also allows the softball (S9) team to bring in other players who were also missing out on game time and creates a clear pathway funnel through the whole disability system.”
Last season saw James O’Conner captain the D40 Tykes to promotion to the National Quest League, the ECB’s senior competition, and Alastair Domville lead the S9 to the Regional North League title.
O’Conner’s side are hoping to start this summer with a new name as well as bagfuls of confidence.
Jervis continued: “We are hoping they will become the Vikings, but we aren’t quite there yet. So for now they will be the first team who play in the Quest League.
“The second team will take on the Tykes name and will play in the Pursuit League North, the league the firsts have just been promoted from. The S9s will stay as they are.
“We are putting in a new management and coaching structure across all three teams, so they will all have a team manager and a designated coach. We see that as a really positive move.
“We will have three teams and three independent management groups as well as player mentors, and we will blend them all together to create a clear pathway across the board.
“James O’Conner will still be the first-team captain. The second-team captain will be Owen Morris, who is a young and talented Learning Disability player. The S9 captain will continue to be Alastair Domville.
“In terms of coaching resources, I’m the D40 first-team manager and Callum Robertson will be coach. The second team will be run by Alex (Jervis) and my other lad Dan. Alex will support Dan whilst continuing to play in the first team. The two teams will play on alternate weekends.
“The S9 management is still being worked through alongside Tom Hudson at Yorkshire Cricket Board.
“Fielding two D40 teams is a trend across the country now. Hampshire, for example, have joined with Dorset and are fielding a second D40 team as well.
“The Pursuit League is in effect becoming a second-team competition.
“Of course it’s a follow on from last year’s success, but this is certainly part of a plan that’s been in the pipeline for a couple or three years.
“We want to facilitate as many players as we can and allow them to play at the level where they belong and hopefully progress from that if they want to.
“Anybody who comes to us with an impairment, we can cater for them.
“If they have aspirations to play for England, we have a pathway for that. If they just want to come and play walking cricket, we also have a pathway for that.
“We’re attracting players all the time, including ones who didn’t know they had qualifying impairments. Another thing we’re finding is that the ECB’s Disability Premier League is enticing players back into the game. That’s fantastic.
“There’s a strong base to work from and the standard’s going up.
“A lot of people have aspirations to play DPL cricket, and a lot of that is driven by the fact the final is televised by Sky.”
Last season, the two sides won 13 out of 16 matches across their respective competitions, with O’Conner’s side finishing things off by winning a promotion play-off against Middlesex’s second team in September.
The current Yorkshire Premier League North all-rounder leads the D40 first team into a competition including Roses rivals Lancashire.
“We will be very competitive in that league, for sure,” added Jervis.
“In the winter, we’ve had three players move to England camps, which is brilliant news. James O’Conner, Luke Riley and Cameron Cooper have all been asked to join.
“We have potentially 14 players going to the Disability Premier League, which is another big tick. We’re as strong as most counties in that respect.
“We’ve signed a couple of players, one being a guy called Matt Bateman who is in his early 40s and didn’t know he had a qualifying disability. He will be a good player who brings a lot of experience.
“If the players play to their ability across all the teams, we’re a match for anyone.”
Yorkshire Disability Fixtures – 2023
D40 – First team
Home games at Higham CC
21st May – Lancs (H)
4th June – Sussex (A)
18th June – Hampshire (H)
2nd July – Essex (A)
16th July – Middlesex (H)
30th July – Surrey (A)
D40 – Second team
Home games at Undercliffe CC
14th May – Cheshire (H)
28th May – Wales (H)
11th June – Shropshire (A)
25th June – Derbys (A)
23rd July – Derbys (H)
6th Aug – Wales (A)
S9 – Softball team
7th May – Lancs (H) – Scarborough
21st May – Cheshire (A)
4th June – Wales (H) – TBC
18th June – Cheshire (A)
2nd July – Lancs (A)
16th July – Cheshire (H) – South Milford