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Yorkshire County Cricket Club review of 2012
GRAHAM HARDCASTLE examines the year the Tykes fought back to the top.
The main aim was to make sure Yorkshire had a shot at winning the LV= County Championship title in 2013, the club’s 150th anniversary year.
The pressure was on new first-team coach Jason Gillespie and his players following relegation from division one amid embarrassing performances and an astonishing broadside from club chairman Colin Graves.
And while the start of the 2012 summer did not quite go to plan, things changed very quickly.
Yorkshire were on the back foot in an opening week draw against Kent at Headingley, while Ajmal Shahzad was soon to express his displeasure at the way things were going before hot-footing it over the Pennines to join reigning champions Lancashire on loan.
Now it is a decision he may be regretting. He more than anybody will know what a difference 12 months can make.
The former England fringe fast bowler is not sure of a permanent contract at Old Trafford, the Red Rose were relegated and Yorkshire took their place in division one.
The summer just gone will be remembered mainly due to the fact that it rained more times than any of us would care to remember.
Incredibly, the county had 13 days completely washed out in Championship and plenty of other days heavily affected too.
Ahead of the final month of the season, it really did look as if the White Rose would miss out due to the weather.
But three matches later, and three wins later, everything was fine and the champagne was being sprayed across the outfield at Chelmsford.
Andrew Gale’s side may have narrowly missed out on the division two title to Derbyshire, but gaining promotion is no mean feat, especially given the pressure they were under at the start of the campaign.
The Championship campaign has seen players young and old shine.
Jonny Bairstow made his Test debut for England and Joe Root, who scored a sensational 222 not out on a sticky wicket against Hampshire at Southampton in July, looks set to follow on the tour of India in November.
Gary Ballance, despite not piling on the runs, and Azeem Rafiq have both enhanced their reputations, and will also travel to India in November with the England Performance Programme squad.
Ballance can look back on the hundred he scored against Gloucestershire in the contrived run chase at Bristol as being key to the outcome of the season.
Although not quite a ‘young gun’, Steve Patterson led the bowling attack expertly with 48 wickets at 20.81, while Moin Ashraf enjoyed success during the second half of the summer on the back of starring in Twenty20.
Then there were the golden old oldies. Phil Jaques returned to the club after six years away to be leading run-scorer with 792 from 15 matches, including two hundreds.
And at the grand old age of 36, Anthony McGrath proved his doubters wrong with some valuable contributions, including two hundreds, a 90 and a fantastic unbeaten 76 to help to clinch a vital, narrow win over Gloucestershire at Scarborough.
Ryan Sidebottom would have liked more wickets than the 24 he mustered, but injury played a large part in that.
And the left-arm swing bowler can still have a major impact on Yorkshire’s fortunes in 2012 when they travel to South Africa to play in the Champions League a week on Tuesday.
It may have been a disappointing Clydesdale Bank campaign, but at the tenth time of asking Yorkshire fired on all cylinders in Twenty20.
They played some exhilarating cricket, especially in the field, and were unfortunate to miss out in last month’s final against Hampshire at Cardiff despite the best efforts of overseas signing David Miller, the South African left-hander.
Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc appeared for Yorkshire in the Championship, but he only bowled 42.1 overs mainly due to the weather. One of his matches was against Glamorgan at Colwyn Bay in June when only 34 overs were possible in the match.
But the 22-year-old left-arm quick was sensational in Twenty20 with 21 wickets from ten matches, more than anybody else in the competition.
The aim for Yorkshire now is to challenge for silverware, starting with the Champions League this year and then the Championship next.
The latter will depend on who is recruited over the winter months, with the main aim being a fast bowler to provide competition for Patterson, Sidebottom and Ashraf.