White is key for mini Roses

Source - yorkshiretoday.co.uk

Yorkshire begin their Twenty20 Cup campaign at home to local rivals Lancashire in a sell out at Headingley this evening.

Yorkshire begin their Twenty20 Cup campaign at home to local rivals Lancashire in a sell out at Headingley this evening.

Such is the whirlwind nature of the Twenty20 Cup, there have been 542 sixes and 2,612 fours in the 97 matches since the tournament began in 2003.

The average team score per innings is 156 and the average runs-per-over 7.83. It is crash, bang, wallop at its most riveting and brazen.

Yet David Byas, Yorkshire's director of cricket, believes the competition is not without subtlety and finesse. Byas says many of the principles that apply to the longer form of the game are also relevant to Twenty20.

He insists Yorkshire must not go willy-nilly at the bowling when they begin their North Group campaign against Lancashire at Headingley before an estimated sell-out crowd of 15,500.

Although the emphasis will still be on attack, with Yorkshire hoping to take advantage of a Lancashire side for whom England's Andrew Flintoff is unavailable due to his involvement in the NatWest one-day series, Byas is demanding his team operate with commonsense and warns that Twenty20 is played as much in the head as it is on the field.

"Twenty20 is a longer form of cricket than most people imagine," said Byas.

"You can't go flying at things like the Aussies did against England last week, for example. Australia kept hitting the ball in the air and losing their wickets. They batted with complacency and you can't afford to do that.

"The Aussies are still relative novices at Twenty20, of course, but the one thing I have learned from being closely involved with the competition at domestic level is that you have to be selectively aggressive.
"It's no use being out of the game at, say, 50-6 off five overs. What do you achieve in the remaining 15 overs? You have to be sensible about things and look to build partnerships.

"The more I look at Twenty20, the more I'm convinced that partnerships are key. If you have to knuckle down for five or six overs, then that's what you have to do. Better that than to throw your wickets away in reckless fashion, which is basically what Australia were guilty of against England."

Byas will hope such sentiments register with his players as Yorkshire aim to improve on a moderate record in the competition.

After finishing second in the North Group in 2003 and narrowly failing to qualify for the finals day, Yorkshire came rock bottom of the regional division last year.

"To be fair, I thought we were a little bit unlucky
last season," added Byas. "We batted fairly well but struggled to defend large totals, and one obvious area we can improve is our fielding.

"We scored more than 200 twice last year and lost, so a better standard of fielding would make a big difference.

"We will tinker with the squad a little during the course of the competition and make one or two adjustments here and there. But those adjustments will be subtle rather than major and we'll be looking towards the vast majority of the guys who have done so well for us up to now in the County Championship and one-day league."

Like most coaches, Byas believes versatility is paramount when it comes to dealing with the vicissitudes of a tournament that challenges players to think on their feet like no other.

To that end, he has pinpointed the role of Craig White, the captain, as integral to his side's hopes of progress. "Craig's position is vitally important in Twenty20," said Byas. "The captain is the one who has to adapt to the changing circumstances of the game and Craig will be great for us in that respect.

"He has a vast amount of knowledge and know-how and he'll be going out there with an open mind, which is absolutely essential.

"Pre-conceived ideas have a funny habit of going out of the window if you suddenly lose a cluster of wickets, or get belted around the park, so having someone with Craig's skill and adaptability is crucial."

When Twenty20 first burst on the scene amid an eruption of fanfare and razzmatazz, many perceived it as a light-hearted diversion, a few weeks away from the sober complexities of Championship warfare. For Byas, it is serious business.

"We won't be treating this competition as a bit of fun, or as a break from the championship and one-day league," he insisted.

"Twenty20 is an important tournament in its own right and I can assure people that we're aiming to make a major impact this year."
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