Yorkshire ‘well placed’ to challenge for honours
The White Rose squad are preparing for a jam-packed two months of four-day and Vitality Blast cricket, a schedule Hutton voted for on behalf of the county earlier this month.
Over the winter, Yorkshire’s management assembled a squad they believe would be capable of challenging on all fronts following a barren three years having almost won a third successive Championship title in 2016.
Overseas players Ravi Ashwin (four-day cricket) and Nicholas Pooran (Vitality Blast) won’t now feature, but England duo Jonny Bairstow and new signing Dawid Malan could do so around their international commitments.
“We had assembled a sensational squad with different skills, designed to last all summer and deal with the various challenges we would face,” said Hutton, who took over from Robin Smith at March’s Emerald Headingley AGM.
“Those challenges are different now, but I think we are still very well placed.
“I’m sure Steve Patterson and the lads will be raring to go.
“In my first year as chairman, nothing would make me smile more than for us to bring home a trophy. That would be brilliant. I would certainly be talking about it a lot, that’s for sure!”
As English cricket’s most successful red-ball county, it was no surprise that Yorkshire voted for an abridged version of the County Championship to be played, starting on August 1.
And, in theory, they should be amongst the favourites to win it given a Northern group could, if all things go to plan, include Division Two sides Derbyshire, Durham, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire as well as newly-promoted Roses rivals Lancashire.
“That kind of thing puts pressure on the boys, but rightly so in many ways,” continued Hutton. “The club expects a lot out of them.
“I am absolutely convinced the players and coaching staff will be fired up, and there’s a strong chance we will find ourselves in a final.”
Yorkshire have never won the T20 Blast, only reaching Finals Day twice since the competition’s inception in 2003. They are self-confessed underachievers.
But they have a new captain in David Willey. While Steve Patterson leads the four-day side, the dynamic all-rounder will steer the Vikings in T20.
“There has been some level of disappointment with the Blast in the last few years,” admitted Hutton.
“Martyn Moxon and Andrew Gale were confident we could compete this year, and that hasn’t changed.
“We want to win both competitions - there’s no reason why we can’t do it.”
Hutton’s comments have been echoed by batsman Gary Ballance, who says being competitive and winning games and trophies is just ahead of enjoyment as goals between now and late September/early October.
He said: “It’s been a frustrating time for everyone involved, but there’s been a lot of work going on behind the scenes to get some cricket back in just under a month’s time. It will be exciting.
“Everyone can appreciate what we’ve got a bit more after this Coronavirus break, so enjoyment is going to be a massive part of the next two or three months. It’s not just playing, it’s training too. We’ve missed that.
“But we want to win the trophies available. The lads will be doing all we can to achieve that.
“The Blast is going to be very similar to years gone by. A few less games, yes, but it’s the closest to normal in that regard. We are desperate to win that.
“Even though it’s a shortened and different season, we certainly won’t be going out there thinking, ‘Let’s just enjoy it’.
“Winning those trophies will be a reward at the end of the year.”