Red Ball Aspirations Of A Top-Adam, Of Lyth'S Immediate Future > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Red ball aspirations high in Adam Lyth's immediate future
There is amazement in Adam Lyth's voice as he describes playing in the T10 league in the UAE late last year. "Balls were literally going out of the stadium," he says. "They weren't just small sixes, they were absolutely huge. Some of the batsmen had so much power, clearing the rope with ease. That was a bit of an eye-opener."
He says it again for emphasis: "Balls were flying out of the park."
Surely the free-flowing run scoring of T20 compares to what he saw? "Well, yes. The death overs in T20, if you don't get it right you're going the distance. But this was literally from ball one. A lot of people were going at 12 an over which is ridiculous really but that's the way the game is going, I suppose."
When it comes to aggressive batting, Lyth can mix it with the best of them. In 2017, he made 161 in a T20 game against Northants and although he only played one game for Maratha Arabians in the T10 tournament, he made it count by smashing 52 from 24 balls. He enjoyed playing and training with the likes of Rashid Khan, Dwayne Bravo and James Faulkner. "It was a good experience rubbing shoulders with the best white ball players in the world," he says.
And it has been in white-ball cricket that the 31 year-old has been at the peak of his powers of late. He averaged 54 in the 50-over stuff last season as Yorkshire reached the semi-finals while he scored 400 runs at a strike rate of 153 in T20. Facing up to the red ball, it has been a slightly different story. "In white-ball cricket, for the last three years I really have performed and I hope that continues," he says. "On the flip-side, my red ball form last season wasn't anywhere near where it should be. For the player that I am, I should be getting a lot more runs and a lot more hundreds."
The left-hander made just one Championship ton last term, against Hampshire in late September, which ended a drought of 14 months without a three figure score in red-ball cricket. Lyth admits it was a frustrating season but can't put his finger on a specific reason why things didn't go to plan. He didn't doubt his method or his technique and felt things would turn the corner but there's little doubt that he needed the Hampshire hundred.
It has been an interesting few years since Lyth played for England during the 2015 home summer, making his Test debut at Lord's against New Zealand, scoring a hundred at Headingley in his second match, winning an Ashes series and then being dropped for the winter tour. The following year, he churned out county runs for fun as he attempted to force his way back in but has struggled to replicate those Championship numbers in the two seasons since.
A criticism of Lyth's batting when he played for England was that he was too loose outside off-stump and there were a number of dismissals in the Ashes that didn't look particularly good. But conditions for batting during that summer were tough going and when Lyth saw balls to hit, a chance to break the shackles, he sometimes went for them. As an aggressive opener, that's actually why he was selected for England in the first place. Another series, another time, he might have cashed in but when he nicked off in the Ashes, it looked average.
He now admits that he focused on his defensive game too much after he was dropped, searching to become the type of player he thought England were after. A tighter, more dogged batsman. "I have probably focused too much on defence," he says. "Wanting to force my way back into the England team is what everyone aspires to when they have been dropped. For me, it was probably thinking too negative rather than actually going out there and putting pressure on the bowler which was what got me picked for England.
"I was probably a bit too tentative. Then, when there is a ball to hit, you're not in the best position to put that away and you're walking back thinking "How have I not hit that for four?"
"It's such a fine line. There's luck that can go against you. That's no excuse, that's just the sport we play. This season, I'm going to be trying my hardest to play how naturally I am at my best. Obviously, I've got to respect the conditions and the ball that's coming down but if there's a ball to be hit, hit it for four or six. Try not to think of anything other than the ball that's coming down."
Lyth describes that summer with England as a "brilliant" experience despite the lack of runs against Australia. "I would have loved to have done better and kept my place but unfortunately I didn't get enough runs," he says. "I can learn a lot from that. But to be involved in an Ashes series was a dream come true and to be on the winning side is even more of a dream come true and not something anybody can ever take away.
"Before that, making my debut at Lord's is something I'll never forget. A hundred at Headingley was probably the best I have ever played in my career and to have my family there to see it...I'll never forget that."
Like many who have experienced the top level, he wants more of it. He also feels that he is better equipped to deal with the demands of Test cricket now having gone through the trials and tribulations he faced in 2015. "Without a shadow of a doubt I'd back myself to do a hell of a lot better than what I did first time round," he says.
"I've got aspirations and a belief inside me that, hopefully after scoring a lot of runs for Yorkshire, I can force my way back into the Test side. That's in the distance. For now, I've got to focus on scoring those runs for Yorkshire and if I do get picked down the line, that will be brilliant. Hopefully it happens."
It's certainly not out of the question. England are still searching for a stable opening partnership and such has been their difficulty of filling the top two berths, it's got to the stage now when a truckload of runs in early season will put anyone's name in the frame ahead of the one-off match against Ireland and the home Ashes. Lyth, as well as Mark Stoneman and James Vince, is part of a group of batsmen that have been tried before, potentially discarded too soon but who could well come again.
Pre-season has gone well. Lyth scored an excellent hundred against Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire's opponents in their Championship opener, in a warm-up game in South Africa last month and feels that his game is in good order after a restful winter.
While the likes of Lyth, new captain Steve Patterson and Gary Ballance lending some continuity to Yorkshire's squad, elsewhere there has been a fair bit of change to the staff during the off-season. Liam Plunkett, Alex Lees and Jack Brooks have left for pastures new while some younger blood has been added in the form of leg-spinner Josh Poysden, batsman Will Fraine and seamer Matt Pillans. Then, of course, there is the controversial addition of South African seamer Duanne Olivier on a Kolpak deal.
The issues around such moves can be kept for another time but Olivier will add plenty to Yorkshire's attack as they look to improve on last year's fourth placed Championship finish. "He's bowling with some real pace and aggression," Lyth adds. "He will be a massive asset if we can keep him fit. The University game this week [against Leeds Bradford MCCU], on a really slow pitch, quite a few balls were coming through. I was standing at slip and he had some real pace behind him.
"I'm really excited to see where this group of players can go. We are making great strides in one-day cricket but unfortunately we've come up short in the last couple of seasons. Hopefully we can get to a one-day or T20 final. We have a massive belief we can do something these next few years."
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