• This season marks 125 years of the competition
  • Yorkshire were winners of the 2014 LV= County Championship
  • Catch up on more of the action this season with Mark Butcher

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With the start of the season only a couple of days away, find out what to expect in 2015 by watching the LV= County Championship Preview Show presented by Sarah-Jane Mee. We’ll also be on the lookout for up and coming talent in the game with the 2015 LV= Breakthrough Player of the Year Award launching in the summer on @heart.

You’ll also be able to catch up on more of the action this season as former Surrey player and England opener Mark Butcher selects one match from each round for extended coverage.

Ahead of the first game on Sunday, Mark had this to say about the year ahead:

"I wouldn’t completely rule it out before a ball is bowled, but I like the look of Sussex, Warwickshire and maybe even Nottinghamshire to make a challenge.

"In Division Two you’d have to look at Surrey and Lancashire as the big beasts who will be expecting to come up. But again it won’t be easy with other ambitious counties in that division like Derbyshire who will relish the prospect of having a crack at them.

"That’s good for the competition though, in both divisions. They’re very hard to predict, and there will be an extra edge with England away at the start of the season but international places up for grabs in all forms of the game. I like the fact that we talk about the LV= County Championship as the competition where Test players come from, and I’m really looking forward to watching more young talent come through this summer."

Watch Matthew Hoggard's trip to Yorkshire in the LV= County Catch up.

Video transcript

Meet the County Champions, Yorkshire: LV= County Catch-Up

MH – Matthew Hoggard

JG – Jason Gillespie

AG – Andrew Gale

RP – Richard Pyrah

JT - Jonny Tadstole

RG - Ryan Gibson

EC - Elliot Callis

MH - Welcome to Headingley, the home of the LV = County Champions, Yorkshire. And this is the LV= County Catch Up.

MH - 2014 was an action packed year for cricket. England found their form and beat India. While in the LV = County Championship Yorkshire lifted the trophy for the first time in thirteen years. With a new season just around the corner and an Ashes series later on in the year 2015 promises to be full of excitements.

MH - Coming up… Head Coach Jason Gillespie reveals the secrets of success and looks ahead to the new season. The battle to find the brainiest cricketers, ‘Batsman or Bowlers’ continues in Bat the Ball. And can Yorkshire get off to a flying start to the campaign in the ‘Sticky Wicket’ challenge.

MH - Well a year ago on this very programme, I predicted Yorkshire would win in the County Championship. I am delighted to announce that I was right and with me, who masterminded the whole thing is the Head Coach Jason Gillespie.

JG - ‘Very king of you to say that. It’s just one link in the chain mate’.

MH - But a very important link. Urm, you came here three years ago and you were in 2nd division, Errm three years later you win the county championship. Can you put a finger on how you’ve gone from 2nd division to County Championship?

JG - Well for a start it was very obvious that Yorkshire had the talented players, the skill. Urm when I arrived obviously, you know the place was a little bit down obviously with the disappointment that had going down into division 2 and I was very simple in my brief to Martin Moxma, our Director of Cricket I said look the sort of cricket I would like Yorkshire 1st team to play is an aggressive, positive brand of cricket. You know I said, I’m not afraid to lose a game of cricket if we’re trying to win it! You know and I think the lads bought into it well, and they…they, in the time I’ve been here they’ve enjoyed going out there and having a license to be nice and positive. 

MH - Now we both know that bowlers win games of cricket.

JG - Yeah no doubt.

MH - But you’ve got to set the games up, and to set games up you’ve got to score runs. A big part of that would be down to opening partnership - Alex Lees and Adam Live.

JG - Yeah. Look Adam is an incredibly talented cricketer, a fantastic lad to have around. You know he works really hard at his game. He’s a good lad to have in the dressing room as you know well. Alex is a very different character, urrm Alex won’t leave any stone unturned in that being a successful as he can. Urm, you know he’s got a very mature head on his shoulders. I think he’s going to be a very, very good player not just for Yorkshire but for England in the future, I’ve got no doubt about that!

MH - You’ve got 6 away with the England Lions at the moment which is fantastic for the club, it’s fantastic for the players. But how as a club, if there’s an England Lion game on during the season with potentially losing 8 players.

JG - If you look at it from a positive point of view Yorkshire players are getting noticed by the selectors. You know and I think that’s fantastic. Rather than moan about the fact that we’re losing players I think it presents opportunities for other Yorkshire cricketers to stake a claim and show us what they can do. And we feel as a club that the work that our academy lads are and our pathways coaches and academy coaches do, that strength and depth will come through. I’ve often said I’ve probably got the easiest job in the club. You know all this hard works done and all these wondering coaches at second XI, academy pathways and then they’ve done all the hard work and these players arrived in the first place and I just say – Right just go out and play lads, just go and enjoy yourselves and show everyone what you can do. What we’ve got at our club is senior players that are incredibly welcoming at helping out the lads and those days of a new lad coming in and no one saying a word to him and he’s trying to find a hook to put his jacket on – those days are, thankfully, well and truly over.

MH - This season 2015, we all know that it’s very difficult to back up performances, winning back to back Championships is very difficult. Who do you think is going to be your biggest opposition?

JG - Um, it’s so tight. It’s going to be a good challenge. I know our lads are really looking forward to it but the focus for us is really how we can improve on our season. You know we can’t have the attitude of – arh this worked last year so this will work this year. No that’s not gonna work. We need to continually strive to be better than what we were last year. If we can do that and have a real positive attitude and go out there and put a….you know play a positive brand of cricket then I think that will give us a very good chance.

MH - Talking about striving and improving, I know the players are downstairs training at the moment. I’d like to thank you very much for your time this morning and I wish you all the best for 2015 and I hope you do well.

JG - Thanks very much Hoggy. Lovely chatting to you.

MH - And now we’ve got something completely different. Brain vs Brawn we’ve got batsman vs bowler in Bat the Ball.

AG - I’m Andrew Gale, I’m representing the Batsman and my buzzer sounds like this (noise).

RP - I’m Richard Pyrah I’m representing the Bowlers and my buzzer sounds like this (noise).

MH - Well, rules are real simple - if you know the answer or you want to have a guess press your buzzer. And if you get it wrong, it goes to your opponent. Are you ready?

AG - Fire away.

MH - How many times have Yorkshire been county Champions?

RP - 33.

MH - Andrew.

AG - 32.

MH - Correct. Which top football club did Ryan Sidebottom’s Dad Arnie play for in the 1970s? Rich

RP - Manchester United.

MH - That’s correct.

AG - He played for two top football clubs actually. He played for Huddersfield Town as well.

MH - I said top. Top!

MH - Number 3. Which two players this season shared a 6th wicket stand against Lancashire…Didn’t finish the question Andrew…. of 296.

Adam Lyth and Radul Husheed

MH - Correct

MH - Question 4. On which ground did our Geoffrey score his 100th 100. Oh it’s Rich again.

RP - Headingley.

MH - How many test centuries did Balance and Root between them score for England in the summer of 2014.

RP - 7 – incorrect.

AG - 6 – correct well guessed.

MH - Who was the top run maker in the LV = County Championship last year.

RP - Adam Lyth.

 MH - Correct

MH - Which Australian bowler recorded the best ever figures for an overseas player against England in Headingley in 1997.

RP - Jason Gillespie.

AG - I thought I was first then!

MH - Which of these three Yorkshire legends was the only one to be Knighted: Our Geoffrey, Len Hutton or Freddie Trueman?

RP - Len Hutton

MH - Correct

MH - How old will Headingley be in 2015?

AG - I’m gonna take a punt on 152 years old.

MH – You’d be incorrect. You want to take a guess as well?

RP - 125 Years old. Correct!

MH – I’m not surprised that the bowlers have annihilated the batsmen. 7-2 to Rich. So well played Rich. Commiserations Andrew. Now I’ve got to face six tricky deliveries in over and out.

I think attitude and mental ability. I think everybody has talent, it’s how you enhance that talent and how you progress it.

Alan Donald – fast, good war paint like the ultimate warrior and just loved watching him bowl. Most probably Darren Lehmann, he just made batting look so simple and then came on with phantom left arm, nearly underarm they were so low but his banter to the other batsman to get inside their heads was fantastic.

I always go to Mathew Hayden. First came across him in 2002 I think on the England Ashes tour and he’d just came off breaking the world record and he used to pump us to all parts of the ground. Especially in the first test match at the one where it hadn’t rained for four months and Nasser won the toss and decided to have a bowl. I still blame Nasser for me having nightmares over Mathew Hayden.

 Newlands in South Africa, Cape Town - the setting of Table Mountain in the background, then one of my favourite things the brewery next door and on the other side they used to do all the bbq-ing of the meat and the smell would go across the ground. So you had the hunger, you had the thirst and then you had the beautiful scenery.

I’m going to be loyal to Yorkshire and I think Lees has got a good chance to progress and it’s still early days but he’ll progress a lot further with the game.

MH – I’m delighted to say I’m being joined now by one of the most influential members of the Yorkshire squad – the captain Andrew Gale.

AG - Morning Mathew.

MH – Now for a local lad you’ve been at Yorkshire now for 14 years and Captain for 5 years. What did it final mean to get your hands on this trophy.

AG - Yeah, I mean um, I didn’t really get my hands on it the first time round. When I did get presented with it at Headingley in front of my own fans it obviously meant a lot as there hasn’t been many trophies at Yorkshire. I think 13 years since we last won it. Big county like this should be winning more trophies. So, it meant a hell of a lot more to really to eventually get our hands on it.

MH – Well you’ve got a fantastic squad, um but what’s the chemistry like at the top end? How do you and Jason get on and how do them team meetings and the plans go?

AG - Yeah well me and Jas have a got a really close relationship. We go back a long way when we played together at EA and he obviously played two years with us but you know I knew him pretty well when he first came on board and we mapped out a plan together and how things were going to work. I’m probably the enforcer on the pitch and Jason’s more off the field. He tells people when their left out and so on. The cohesions really good and we’ve had team meeting before lead by the players themselves. You know me and dizzy don’t even say much in them. I think the best teams are the teams when plans come from the players themselves. You believe in them most that way. You know, on the field I’ll get a gut instinct at times and I’ll go along with that but 9 times out of 10 the lads have played enough cricket to know what they’re doing out there.

MH – It seems like you’ve got the structure in place now can you go from being champions in 2014 to back it up in 15.

AG - Well that’s certainly the plan. You know we don’t want to be waiting another 13 years to get a trophy. It’s far too long for a county the size of Yorkshire. You know I believe we’ve got the squad of players here. Obviously outside influences such as England call ups are going to make a massive difference to us but, um, it’s about us driving forwards now and not looking back. That’s brilliant that we won it this year but going forward and creating a legacy that Yorkshire are going to compete year on and year out for this trophy.

MH – In the England call ups how frustrating is it and how do you cope with potentially losing eight players from your first team?

AG - It is frustrating but ultimately county cricket is here to produce players for England. You know and it would be nice if England stated dominating again and we see the rewards of that. I think if they have a good series against New Zealand, get a few guys in form then you never know they could win the Ashes series. You know, I think Joe Root obviously had a massive summer. Last year as did Gary Balance and you know if they can continue that form then they’re going to be two big players for England.

MH – I’d quite like an Ashes prediction from you just to put you on the spot.

AG - I think it’s going to be a tight series, I’m going to go 2-1 England.

MH – I’m also going to put you on the spot – Can you name me the 3 top counties in this year’s LV= 2015 County Championship and name me the champion.

AG - Well I’m gonna have to back ourselves and go with champions again. I’d say I think Durham are going to bounce back next year after a disappointing start next year and run us close in second. And I’ll probably say Nottingham third.

MH – Okay, thank you very much for your time this morning and congratulations on 2014 being county champions and I will you all the best of luck in 2015.

MH – From the leading names of the present to the great names of the past.

MH – Preparations are in place for the new LV= County Championship but the battle for the sticky wicket title continues. This is a timed obstacle relay race. The rules are simple – 3 players each take a turn to navigate up and down the course all the time juggling a ball on their bat. They get a 5 second penalty if they drop the ball and a 10 second penalty for any shortcuts.

JT - Jonny Tadstole, nick name ‘Tats’.

RG - Ryan Gibson, nickname ‘Child Catcher’.

EC - Elliot Callis, nick name ‘Roy Cropper’ and we are team Yorkshire.

MH – I had a go at this last year and we managed to complete the course in just under 3 days. But the current champions Notts managed to do it in 32.3 seconds and I’m expecting massive things from Yorkshire, the current champions.

MH – Can they be the champions of the sticky wicket? We’ll find out. 3, 2, 1, go! Off to a good start. Mind you we’ve got the smallest man on the course to go first. Oh and he’s fast. He’s good he’s good. And here we got the Lancastrian Roy Cropper. That’s quick. 27 seconds dead. Yorkshire – not only are they county champions they have just got the quickest time in sticky wicket. And that puts Yorkshire in first place.

MH – That’s it from Headingley. Don’t forget that you can follow all the news about the forthcoming LV= County Championship on Facebook and twitter and look out for more LV = county catch up programmes throughout the season. Well thank you for joining me and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. 2015 promises to be very exciting year from the home of the LV= County Champions I’ll see you.