Hopes are high for quick return to top flight for Yorkshire

Yorkshire CCC president Geoff Boycott with chairman Colin Graves.
Yorkshire CCC president Geoff Boycott with chairman Colin Graves.
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AFTER a hugely disappointing 2011 Yorkshire CCC have done some spring cleaning and aim to hit the ground running when the new season begins this week with a four-day game against Kent at Headingley Carnegie.

The White Rose men find themselves back in the second division of the County Championship, but hopes are high that they can bounce back at the first attempt.

With a new president at the helm in Geoff Boycott and a new coaching staff headed by former Australian Test bowler Jason Gillespie there is a fresh look to the hierarchy and an optimism to make up for last year.

Andrew Gale remains as captain and he has largely the same squad as 2011, plus overseas signing Phil Jaques, who was a big hit when at the club previously.

The loss of one player, Castleford CC spinner and handy batsman David Wainwright, could prove costly if we have a dry summer, but the key really is going to be getting the best out of some talented players who did not quite fire last year - the likes of Adil Rashid, Ajmal Shahzad, Anthony McGrath and Adam Lyth.

The batting should be strengthened with the addition of Jaques, who will be totally committed to the cause having given up all his Australian commitments while in the bowling department success could depend on just how much Yorkshire fans get to see of all-rounder Tim Bresnan.

The likeable Townville man is still very much part of the England set-up, even if this winter his role has been more in the one-day in twenty20 arenas rather than the Tests.

He will be missing in the early weeks of the English season because of his commitments in Sri Lanka with England, but when he returns he will be keen to show in the county arena that he is still worth a place in the Test team.

Yorkshire could also lose their exciting wicketkeeper batsman Jonny Bairstow for spells after his promotion to the England limited overs sides. That could make it difficult to challenge for honours in the shorter format of the game, but it will provide an opportunity for some of the club’s talented youngsters.

Joe Root, Gary Ballance and Azeem Rafiq were thrown in last year and showed distinct promise at times in a losing team. If they can progress and get some confidence early on it gives Yorkshire plenty of hope for 2012 and beyond.

The main target this time, however, is promotion back to the top flight of the Championship with new president Boycott declaring it essential.

Upon taking up his new role, Boycott said: “The club will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2013 and in our anniversary year we should be striving to win the Championship. We cannot do that in the second division. We have got to get out of it

“The young players have to perform, and some of them didn’t do so last season when they let themselves and the club down. That has to stop, and they have to help to get promotion, because Championship cricket is part of our heritage.”

It all starts on Thursday with the opening LV County Championship game against Kent with two more four-day games to follow in April against Essex at Headingley Carnegie (19-22) and away to Kent at Canterbury (26-29).