Following our One-Day Plate success, we, Yorkshire, turned our attention back to the First Class format. The knockout stages of the One-Day competition were actually played intertwined with the First Class season. Obviously there was a lot of attention around how I would back-up last year’s introduction to the four-day game given my epic knock of 325 against Sussex.
In the first round of matches against Middlesex, I got up and running with a first innings knock of 40 but that was only a prelude of what was to come. Come the second innings, I shared a partnership of 332 of which my contribution was all of 269. I was actually thinking about overhauling the 325 I had made last year but it wasn’t to be. The most frustrating element to this innings was that it would remain my highest knock of the 2023 campaign.
My reward for another double hundred was to be promoted up the order from five to three which suited me fine. I went on to make 118 and 32 against Glamorgan before enduring a frustrating period with the bat. My next run of scores was as follows: 30 & 32, 0 (1st ball!), 2 & 18 and run out for six before scratchily making 54 in the second innings of that match against Durham. Things improved thereafter as I went on to make at least a fifty in each of the next five matches (And in six out of seven in total). With the fixtures now in reverse, against Durham again, I registered scores of 27 and 67 before really enjoying myself against Kent. As was the case against Middlesex on the opening day, I dominated a lop-sided partnership of 246. I contributed 192 to the combo but went onto make another double century. Rather embarrassingly, I ran myself out with a lazy bit of work when returning for the second having been on 199. I’d reached 200 with the first run but the dismissal kind of took the gloss off any celebrations. With centuries in each innings of the match insight, I was gutted when I failed to execute a shot properly having made 87 in the second innings. I followed those knocks up with scores of 1 and 143 against Mitchell Starc’s Leicestershire.
Despite my List A and First Class contributions, I failed to earn a T20 gig with Yorkshire so returned to the club scene with Leeds. In the only outing that I was required to bat, I only faced the last two balls of the match. I promptly hit the penultimate ball of the game for six to tie the scores then ran two to seal victory. It was great to really give something back to Leeds and not be seen as some big show for whom professional cricket had gone to his head. I still care about my club side and the amateur game in general. It groomed me to be the professional that I’ve become.
Upon my return to Yorkshire and off the back my my recent knocks of 67, 200, 87, 1 and 143 I was promptly demoted in the order to number four in the batting line-up. I wasn’t particularly enthused about that. Following demotion, I fell for just eight against my Northamptonshire nemesis, South African spinner Tabraiz Shamsi. I was his victim again in the second innings but did at least briefly take him to the cleaners before falling for 54. There then followed solid knocks of 50 and 80 against Derbyshire but disappointment at failing to convert them into more hundreds. In the penultimate match of the season against Glamorgan, I batted abysmally and was deservedly mopped up for scores of just 1 and 17. Following that one poor performance, I went full circle, demoted back to number five in the batting order and so finished the campaign where I had started. There was no double ton against Middlesex this time but scores of 64 and 15 took me to a season tally of 1472 runs in First Class cricket. I finished as seventh highest run scorer in the top division though my average of 54.52 was some way down the rankings.
It was a disappointing season in the longest format for Yorkshire. Winning our final two matches restored some pride but we finished in an unacceptable sixth place, way, way off challenging for the title.
As for my career, I now total 2237 First Class runs at an impressive average of 65.79. I’ve reorder six centuries complimented by nine half-tons. Of those six hundreds, three have been doubles and one a triple. I’m very proud of those performances. I also average a healthy 63.73 in List A cricket but am under no illusion regarding the challenge ahead to maintain those figures. I’ve signed up with Yorkshire for both First Class and List A cricket in 2024 but do hope to finally win a professional T20 contract. If I can get some T20 game time with Yorkshire then I can push for gigs in the Irish or Afghan T20 competitions.