YORKSHIRE declined to make Jason Gillespie available to speak to the media after the County Championship win over Hampshire on Wednesday, correctly deducing that he would be bombarded instead with questions relating to the vacant England coaching position, for which he is the bookmakers’ favourite to replace Peter Moores.
But the club yesterday issued comments from Gillespie in which he outlined Yorkshire’s strategy for the NatWest T20 Blast competition, which starts against Derbyshire at Headingley tonight (7pm), with the first-team coach promising a new policy that will see the team play with “no fear”, be “ultra-aggressive” and follow a course of “all-out attack”.
Accepting that Yorkshire’s T20 record is “not good enough”, with the club having only once reached Finals Day, Gillespie stressed that “the old way has gone”.
In a clear admission that Yorkshire need to be even more attacking than they already are, with Gillespie having championed a positive approach since being appointed coach in 2011, the former Australia fast bowler pledged they would throw caution to the wind.
“We are going to play with no fear and be ultra-positive in every facet of our game,” he said. “The facts are we haven’t been successful in T20. We have only reached Finals Day once in the history of the competition, and for a county of our stature that is simply not good enough.
“This has to change. The old way has gone and we will develop a new mindset and approach to the game. The best approach, we believe, is to go out and be aggressive and put on a show for the crowd.”
With England lagging behind the world in one-day cricket, and amid much talk of the need for a T20 franchise tournament in this country to rival the Indian Premier League and Australian Big Bash, the T20 Blast has never felt more irrelevant.
It remains clumsily structured, with 14 group games spread out over 10 weeks, and rather than the type of showpiece competition it should be, it has the feel of an afterthought, with Yorkshire having had just one day to prepare for tonight’s game – the first to be played under Headingley’s new floodlights.
None of which diminishes Yorkshire’s desire to win the competition, or to attract as many as possible through the turnstiles. For Gillespie, the twin objectives go hand in hand.
“Cricket is evolving all the time,” he said, “and the recent 50-over World Cup confirmed that teams are looking to score big runs and be really aggressive.
“That has shown to the wide reaches of the sport, across all formats, that you have to score quickly and be positive, then nail your skills with the ball and try not to give the opposition any room to get ahead.
“That’s what I want our lads to do. It is based on all-out attack and to entertain the people that part with their money to come and watch us play.”
Gillespie continued: “We are in the entertainment industry, and we have an obligation to entertain the public.
“I want people leaving Headingley saying, ‘You know what, I’ve had a great time watching Yorkshire play cricket. They may or may not have won, but you know what, I’ve had a great time, I really enjoyed that’.”
Yorkshire should be too strong for a Derbyshire team who have lost seven of their last eight meetings against the White Rose.
England pace bowler Liam Plunkett returns after he was dropped for last week’s Championship match for failing to attend the club’s final training session before that game and an official team photocall.
Plunkett responded positively by smashing a century for the second team against Kent in Canterbury on Tuesday.
Matthew Fisher, the 17-year-old pace bowler currently unavailable for Championship cricket due to taking his exams, is named in a 13-man squad, which does not include England’s Joe Root, Gary Ballance or Adam Lyth, with the latter set to make his Test debut against New Zealand at Lord’s on Thursday.
If the England and Wales Cricket Board expect spectators to take the NatWest T20 Blast seriously when England players are not allowed to play in it six days before a Test, then they are living in dreamland.
Yorkshire (from): Bairstow, Brooks, Bresnan, Fisher, Gale (capt), Hodd, Leaning, Lees, Patterson, Plunkett, Pyrah, Rashid, Rhodes.