It’s oddly reassuring that Yorkshire should win the title again. It provides the kind of clarity that is rarely seen in English domestic cricket. We can state with some conviction that they are the strongest county at the minute – stronger even than Herefordshire.
When a team does well one year before falling flat on its arse the following year, it makes you think the County Championship is more influenced by weather and blind luck than anything else. Back-to-back titles are therefore welcome. Being as no-one’s won three in a row since the Sixties, it probably even counts as an ‘era’.
Yorkshire have won in fine style as well. Unbeaten, they currently have nine wins and four draws to their name, which means they’ve beaten the climate as well as most teams. They’ve also achieved this with roughly half their team having been co-opted by England at any one team – the better half too.
Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow constitute the bulk of Yorkshire’s first-choice batting line-up and they’ve also been without their leg-spinner (Adil Rashid) and fast bowler (Liam Plunkett) for quite a lot of the time. That should really be debilitating, but not a bit of it.
Is it admirable that they’ve coped with these losses or does it reflect badly on county cricket in general? If the Yorkshire second XI is the second best county side, who’s providing the competition? Who’s testing the players out?
Jonny Bairstow for one could do with playing some level of cricket better than the County Championship. He’s hit five centuries and averaged a hundred, but England still don’t seem convinced of his worth.
Other statistics also hint at an uncomfortable story. Tim Bresnan’s averaging 50 with the bat this year. James Middlebrook’s averaging less than 20 with the ball. Ryan Sidebottom, five years after he faded from Test cricket, is averaging even less – just 15 rus per wicket.
Sidebottom, Brooks and Patterson
Yorkshire’s pace attack is not just good, it’s almost a template for how to succeed in county cricket – three hard-working, reliable fast-medium bowlers who almost certainly won’t get called up for England. This is the gold standard. This is what teams are striving to put together.
Maybe we’re wrong about Brooks and Patterson. Maybe they will play for the national side, but it’s hard to avoid the feeling that they’re the kinds of players more likely to be on the cusp of doing so than actually taking that final step.
This has all descended into angst
Which wasn’t our intention. We really did intend on lauding Yorkshire. The county that’s given England Joe Root and Adil Rashid deserves its success and no-one can deny they’re the best. Then again, perhaps it’s only fitting that their success should be celebrated with a big old moan.
To Yorkshire! [Grumbles dismissively and wanders off to make a cup of tea.]