Yorkshire CCC’s best is still to come, insists Jack Brooks

Yorkshire's Jack Brooks celebrates taking the wicket of Warwickshire's Ian Westwood at Edgbaston. Picture: PA.
Yorkshire's Jack Brooks celebrates taking the wicket of Warwickshire's Ian Westwood at Edgbaston. Picture: PA.

JACK BROOKS believes that Yorkshire have been nowhere near their best in a low-key start to their title defence.

The pace bowler said they can be “20 to 30 per cent” better as they aim for a hat-trick of County Championships.

Yorkshire's Jack Brooks in action against Hampshire in the season opener. Picture: Simon Hulme

Yorkshire's Jack Brooks in action against Hampshire in the season opener. Picture: Simon Hulme

Yorkshire have drawn their opening two matches against Hampshire and Warwickshire, and Brooks concedes there is room for improvement.

“We haven’t been anywhere near our best yet and we have to start firing soon,” he said. “We’re 20 to 30 per cent off where we can be in all areas, and I don’t think we’ve been consistent as a team.

“It’s a long way from being panic stations; we know we’re a good outfit, and we’ve just got to play a bit better, be a bit more focused and realise that the challenge is there for us now and it’s real.

“We’ve spent all winter talking about it, and now it’s actually happening.”

Yorkshire showed the style of champions in the opening half of the Hampshire match.

They scored 593-9 declared and had Hampshire 128-5 only for the visitors to reach 453 before the game petered out.

There was no chance of a result against Warwickshire at Edgbaston, where the weather had the biggest say.

Warwickshire moved from 205-2 to 443-9 on the final day before declaring in reply to Yorkshire’s first innings 379, the visitors closing on 73-2 in their second innings.

“It’s not been the most fun start to the season with the weather and conditions, and a strange one for us really,” added Brooks.

“We bowled okay against Hampshire but were just slightly off, and we weren’t quite at our best this week.

“In some respects, though, if we’d come in and blazed away and got two big wins, it might not have been the best thing for us.

“It might actually be a good thing to have a good kick up the backside because when things go so well over a long period of time, we have to make sure that we don’t get complacent and keep raising the bar.”

Brooks’s candour is typical of a team who are their own toughest critics.

Yorkshire’s standards are such that they have lost only four Championship games in as many seasons.

“We’re not going to make excuses, we’re not that sort of team,” said Brooks.

“We knew coming into the season that other teams were probably going to be better and raise the bar against us. Other teams are going to come at us hard and we have to cope with that.

“We’re going to play on flat wickets as well, so we have to find different ways.”

Brooks’s comments were echoed by captain Andrew Gale, who believes there is more to come from his side.

“We know we can be better,” said Gale. “We’re playing okay cricket, but not the cricket we want to be playing.

“I don’t think as a top-six we’ve quite hit our straps; we haven’t dominated and had big partnerships, and we haven’t bowled in partnerships either. We’ve been a bit sloppy, but we’ve had two solid draws and we are working hard.”

Gale has a selection dilemma for Yorkshire’s next match against Notts at Trent Bridge, starting on Sunday.

With Joe Root returning, Alex Lees or Jack Leaning would seem likeliest to make way, with Gale potentially opening if Lees is left out.

One man who will not feature against his former county, however, is Ryan Sidebottom, whose left ankle injury is still being assessed. Gale said he would be “surprised” if Sidebottom plays against Notts and also in Yorkshire’s subsequent game at home to Surrey.

There was little to play for on the final day in Birmingham other than bonus points after 117.2 overs were lost during the first three days.

Yorkshire had the better of the morning exchanges, Adam Lyth having a hand in each of the four wickets to fall as he took two slip catches and also two wickets.

Lyth caught Varun Chopra early on, the opener adding six to his overnight 101 before trying to cut a ball from Steve Patterson that was too close to him, and Lyth then snared the prize scalp of Jonathan Trott when the former England man was caught at slip for 74.

Yorkshire were less impressive in the afternoon, Rikki Clarke blazing a 45-ball half-century and Tim Ambrose an unbeaten 61.

Warwickshire achieved maximum batting points with 20 balls to spare, Adil Rashid defying the perishing cold to take 4-127 from 31 overs.

In the visitors’ second innings, Lyth was dropped on nought at short-leg by Sam Hain off Boyd Rankin before spinner Jeetan Patel trapped him lbw.

Lees top-edged Rankin to long-leg, but Gale and Gary Ballance batted out time.