Yorkshire's home-grown policy pays early dividends

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The Independent Online

For those depressed by the lack of home-grown batsmen in the England side, look north. Yorkshire are making the pace in this year's County Championship and could be setting something of a trend in terms of the make-up of their team. In four matches so far this season, the Tykes have fielded a minimum of nine Yorkshire-bred players: indeed, before last week's arrival of Tino Best, there were 10 in the team.

The policy is doing their hopes no harm. The 30-times champions have won two, drawn two and only Kent can be said to have matched them. The current champions Durham spent the best part of the first two days in the field last week as Adam Lyth of Whitby, Joe Sayers of Leeds and Anthony McGrath of Bradford provided solid support to Jacques Rudolph of, ahem, Transvaal.

Today they greet Essex at Scarborough. Having thrashed Hampshire in their first game and then been on top against Durham, the last few weeks have been sobering for today's visitors. Badly beaten by Lancashire at home, Mark Pettini's promoted side then had slightly the worst of the draw against Somerset last week. Still, there are good signs: winter signing Billy Godleman showed why he is so highly rated, for all that things did not work out for him at Middlesex, with a fine century.

How Joe Denly and Rob Key could do with one of those. Heavily indebted Kent, who are at home to Warwickshire today, have begun the season in miserable form: two draws and a loss so far, and much of the blame must be shouldered by the highly rated opening pair, who have accumulated just 152 runs in 12 innings between them. Before the season, the fear at Kent was that the bowling would let them down. So far, it is the batsmen who have the most to be sheepish about.

The final two First Division games see Lancashire – who would have beaten Kent last week were it not for the Manchester rain – face Somerset while Hampshire host Nottinghamshire. The former are bottom of the table, having lost three from three, while Nottinghamshire have won both of their matches to date.

Despite their Second Division status, Surrey still attract plenty of attention, much of it unwanted in recent seasons, given the Oval side's mediocrity. No longer, perhaps: new captain Rory Hamilton-Brown scored a century in their last match, and they should have beaten Worcestershire. Gloucestershire, who visit south London today, should be on their guard.