ASK Martyn Moxon to sum up his task as Yorkshire’s director of cricket and the answer is simple: “To win now and develop for the future, so that we keep winning.”
In a nutshell, it is the challenge faced by all in Moxon’s position in most branches of high-level team sport.
On the one hand, people want success in the here and now.
On the other, they want that success to continue through a steady stream of up-and-coming talent.
In recent times, Moxon has overseen the best of both worlds.
Yorkshire have won consecutive County Championships on the back of a high-class production line.
The club, in many ways, have arrived at the perfect situation: namely, that of being able to blood one or two youngsters here and there around an extremely talented, experienced core.
It is something that the former Yorkshire and England batsman is anxious to maintain.
“Our biggest challenge now is that we make sure we get the next generation of first-team cricketers ready for when they are needed,” said Moxon.
“It’s about winning at the present time, certainly, but it’s also about developing for the future, and I’ve got to try and oversee that situation.
“Our plan over the next two-to-three years is to make sure that the next generation are ready to fit seamlessly into a continually successful first XI.
“And a big part of that is trying to give our young players as much high-quality cricket as we can.”
To that effect, Yorkshire allowed 20-year-old pace bowler Josh Shaw to join Second Division Gloucestershire on a season-long loan deal.
With Yorkshire boasting one of the strongest and most well-stocked seam attacks in the country, Shaw’s opportunities at Headingley were likely to be limited, making the move to Bristol in everyone’s interests.
“It’s a win-win for all three parties,” said Moxon. “Us, Gloucester and Josh himself.
“Any opportunities we get to do that sort of thing with any of our other lads, we will take them.
“At the end of the day, it means that they will be returning to us as better players.”
Not that Yorkshire are reliant solely on other clubs to give their own youngsters first-team experience.
On the contrary, in recent years Yorkshire have been quick to hand first-team opportunities to youngsters in one-day cricket in particular, a situation that is set to continue this year.
“On our pre-season tour to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the likes of Ben Coad, James Wainman, Karl Carver and Will Rhodes all came in and performed well in the T20s,” said Moxon.
“They helped us to retain the Emirates T20 Cup, and although I don’t take too much notice of that (winning the cup), by the same token it’s better to have won those games than lost them – particularly when you consider that we beat Lancashire, the current T20 holders.
“The pleasing thing was that those bowlers performed really well under pressure in both games, especially in the Lancashire match when we defended 130-odd.
“That was a pleasing exercise and it could well influence our T20 squad going into this season.
“On top of that, Karl Carver also bowled 50-odd overs in the Champion County game against the MCC, and Will Rhodes got runs in both innings of that match in challenging situations under pressure.”
Perhaps Yorkshire’s biggest challenge in the next few years is maintaining that stock of quality pace bowlers.
Although the club’s achievement in winning back-to-back Championships has been a genuine team effort, it would not have been possible without the settled bowling core of Ryan Sidebottom, Jack Brooks, Steve Patterson and Tim Bresnan, complemented by the spin of Adil Rashid and the pace of England’s Liam Plunkett.
“With Ryan now in his late 30s and the other senior seamers in their early 30s, then we have to have one eye on that situation,” said Moxon.
“Certainly by 2018, shall we say, we’re going to be needing to look seriously at who’s going to be taking over.
“But we’ve got some good young prospects coming through, with the likes of Matthew Waite another exciting talent.
“He played second XI cricket last year and is coming along nicely, and his seam bowling is developing and should only get better.”
In many ways, Yorkshire have been blessed with a golden generation in recent times.
Discounting overseas players, their first-choice top-six would feature four Test batsmen in the form of Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Gary Ballance and Adam Lyth, and their shoes are not easy to fill whenever they are away on international duty.
“We’ve got some good young batsmen coming through,” added Moxon. “You’d class Jack Leaning as a young player still, and he looks as though he should be around for a while, and although Rhodes is a little bit raw still, the way he played in that game against the MCC, you’re hoping there’s a development there.
“We’ve also got a couple of young batsmen in Ben Ainsley and Harry Brook, who look as though they might be very good, and they’ll be playing second XI cricket as much as their education will allow this summer.
“We’ve also got a number of young spinners who are good prospects.”
One of them is Carver, the 20-year-old left-armer who has made solid progress in recent times.
The club have also been looking at players such as former Essex leg-spinner Tom Craddock.
“We need to be patient with Karl, but you’d like to think that in two or three years’ time he’ll be really good,” said Moxon.
“We’ve also got the likes of Tom with us and, below that, we’ve got a lad called James Logan who played second XI cricket at the back end of last year.
“Although James Middlebrook did a great job for us last year, we’d ideally like to try and find someone who is a bit more long-term than Midders.
“We’re continuing to assess our spin bowling options so that if, for any reason, Adil Rashid is away with England, then we know what the best ones are and can make a judgement.”