THE new regime in charge at Yorkshire County Cricket Club have spelled out their target for the season that starts today, insisting: “We want to win trophies.”
New captain Gary Ballance and new first-team coach Andrew Gale are united in their hopes and expectations for the summer ahead.
Yorkshire start their County Championship programme against Hampshire at Headingley this morning aiming to reclaim the title they lost to Middlesex.
They also expect to challenge strongly in the 50-over Cup and T20 Blast, having reached the semi-finals of both tournaments last year.
Ballance said: “First and foremost, we want to get some trophies.
“We want to do well in the one-day stuff and we want to get back to winning the Championship.
On matchday, it’s up to Gary and the decisions out there on the field. He’s got to put his own stamp on it. That’s what I wanted as a captain, and I have to give him that opportunity as well.Andrew Gale
“We know how hard that’s going to be with a very strong Division One in the Championship. Hopefully, if we start well, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
Gale, who stepped down as captain in order to take over from former first-team coach Jason Gillespie, echoed Ballance’s sentiments.
“We want to win a trophy; any trophy,” he said.
“Yorkshire are expected to win trophies, and I believe that we can compete on all three fronts.
“We can’t have 14 players competing in all three competitions, though, so we’ll need a squad of 20 to 22 all playing a part.
“But we want to win a trophy, that’s the bottom line.”
For that to happen, the dynamic between Ballance and Gale will be important.
Although the squad and structure remains largely unchanged, with director of cricket Martyn Moxon having just completed a decade back at the club, the new broom is sure to have its own style of sweeping.
In particular, Ballance will have the major role to play as captain, with the coach effectively there to support him and the players.
Gillespie was at pains to draw this distinction when Gale was his leader, with the captain in cricket having a far more influential role than the captain, say, in football.
“It’s been good so far,” said Ballance.
“It’s quite nice because Galey did about six or seven years of captaincy, so he knows what works well.
“He’s given me responsibility and he’s let me lead.
“I can still get advice from him, because he did such a good job.
“I’m still going to pick his brains and hopefully we can work well together.
“I’m obviously a different sort of character. I’m a bit more quiet, I guess, and all I will look to do is lead from the front on the field and in the nets.”
Gale said: “I still have my say, and me and Gary just work together on who is the best guy to talk at the right stages.
“When it comes to training and preparation, that’s all down to me.
“On match day, it’s up to Gary and the decisions out there on the field.
“He’s got to put his own stamp on it. That’s what I wanted as a captain, and I have to give him that opportunity as well.”
Ballance and Gale should complement each other.
Their quest for silverware is also boosted by Ballance’s availability after losing his England place and by the signing of Australian batsman Peter Handscomb, who debuts today.
Asked what is key to regaining the Championship, Ballance said: “Just being a bit more consistent with bat and ball.
“As a batting group, if we can get those big scores like we did in 2014 and 2015, which gave our attack a good score to bowl at and gave us a good chance to get 20 wickets, I think we’ll be fine.
“But I think that every team in Division One is good. It’s hard to single out just one side, and we’ll be giving it our best shot.”
Yorkshire drew the corresponding game last year, which was also the first of the season.
In addition to their main England players, who have not been made available, the club are without five frontline pace bowlers.
Ryan Sidebottom, Jack Brooks and Liam Plunkett are injured, while David Willey and Matthew Fisher are on the road to recovery.
As such, Ben Coad, the 23-year-old Harrogate-born pace bowler, is set to make only his second Championship appearance.
Hampshire are coached by ex-Yorkshire and England all-rounder Craig White.
According to Gale, they will pose a stiff test.
“They’ve recruited well,” he said. “They’re a strong side. (Kyle) Abbott and (Rilee) Rossouw are excellent signings, and they’ll be resilient.
“We’ll have to make sure that we’re really on it to beat them.”
An EGM at the ground at 9am today will confirm former Yorkshire and England all-rounder Richard Hutton as the new club president.
Members will also have a chance to discuss the proposed new city-based T20 competition with club officials.
Chris Waters assesses Yorkshire’s potential: Page 27