As starts to the season go, getting slagged off by one of your own players on the eve of the first game before promptly falling to pieces once it begins is impressively rubbish. But that is how newly-promoted Yorkshire have begun life back in the first division, presumably in an attempt to make their Australian coach feel right at home.
There’s something wonderful about watching Yorkshire completely implode; whether that’s simply because there’s nothing more entertaining than a Yorkshireman scorned, or that imagining vast hordes of locals getting their whippets in a terrible twist as the news filtered through is just so much fun is difficult to judge. Either way, there must have been furious mutterings galore even before a ball was bowled at Headingley this week, as Adil Rashid chose the day before the season to go off on a spectacular, if slightly bizarre, moan about everyone and everything apart from himself. We have some sympathy for his ‘plight’ – generally English captains don’t know how to use leg-spinners and Rashid could have been treated better both by England and by Yorkshire – but despite our soft spot for him there’s no real excuse for having a pop at your own side on the eve of the season. If nothing else, telling the captain how crap he is probably won’t encourage him to pick you very often over the next few months.
What Yorkshire needed was a strong performance, to prove Team Unity was indeed intact and everything was fine. What they didn’t need was to collapse to 96 all out before tea on the first day against Sussex. Alas. Chris Jordan took six wickets on championship debut for his new county and even the heady heights of 96 looked a mere pipe dream at one stage, as the top order abandoned ship and headed straight for the pub, leaving their side 18/4 and the members sending for their pitchforks. Things didn’t get much better from there; Sussex were ahead by stumps on day one and ended up building an enormous lead, thanks in no small part to
Ireland’s England’s Ireland’s Ed Joyce. A slightly better second effort couldn’t save Yorkshire and they lost by an innings, a defeat Jason Gillespie wisely put down to ‘the other team batting and bowling better’ before fleeing for his life.
Although too much shouldn’t be read into a one-off, hilarious opening to the season, it does highlight various potential problems for Yorkshire this summer. The Rashid shenanigans, coupled with the way Ajmal Shahzad fell out with all and sundry last year would seem to suggest there’s a man-management problem somewhere, hard as it may be to believe that Yorkshiremen might manage to rub people up the wrong way. On the pitch, the batting looks fragile given they’re likely to be without future England captain, leader, legend Joe Root, as well as Jonny Bairstow, for chunks of the season. Even the bowling might have a few brows furrowed; winter signing Jack Brooks was dispatched to all parts while 51allout favourite Liam Plunkett was actually picked for a real match, prompting concerns his contract may not have been a practical joke. There could be a few more where that 96 game from, and the recriminations will be a joy to behold.
Middlesex and Durham were the other victors in Division One, while the heavens were so appalled by Glamorgan vs. Northamptonshire they decided to wash the entire second division out and every match was drawn.