STEVE PATTERSON says an increase in top order runs will be key to Yorkshire’s hopes of regaining the Specsavers County Championship title this summer.

The White Rose failed to claim a hat-trick of crowns last year, with only Alex Lees and Adam Lyth topping 1,000 runs for the campaign.

Yorkshire only posted 400 plus five times last year, including only twice in the second half of the season.

And their middle to lower order were regularly forced to bail them out in order to remain competitive.

“One area we struggled with last year was scoring runs,” said the seamer, who celebrates his testimonial in 2017.

“We didn’t get the runs needed on good pitches to put teams under pressure, and that will be our biggest challenge.

“Having Gary Ballance back will be a big positive because he’s one of our most consistent performers.

“Peter Handscomb has started his international career extremely well, and he is also an exciting player.

“I think what we need this season is for people like Leesy, who has played quite a bit of cricket now and has had four or five years or first-class stuff, to produce a level of consistency that matches up to his ability.

“That’s not a negative on what’s gone before, but he will now be considered a senior player.

“A level of consistency similar to Adam Lyth’s is what is needed by him and a Jack Leaning, for example.

“Jack’s had a couple of years in and out of the side, but with Galey retiring, there should be an opportunity for somebody, and he will want to put his hand up.

“Can he develop into the player we want him to be?

“The year before last he had a cracking year and scored three hundreds, averaged way north of 40. Then, last year, he found it difficult.

“You get that with younger players developing their trade. It would be nice to see him come through again.

“If all these things fall into place, we’re going to be very hard to beat.”

Patterson, Jacks Brooks, Ryan Sidebottom, Josh Shaw, Ben Coad and James Wainman are the six bowlers who have travelled to Dubai early in a bid to ensure they are best prepared to make the most of the club’s near fortnight long pre-season tour, which officially starts on Monday.

It is a trip which sees them miss both the champion county fixture against the MCC and the Emirates Airline T20 event, something Patterson says may help the squad be fresher as the summer reaches a crescendo.

Patterson shares his testimonial with retiring Sidebottom, who will only host events in August and September.

“It doesn’t seem that long ago I was thinking ‘will I ever play first-team cricket for Yorkshire, am I good enough?’” added Patterson.

“To do that, become capped and win trophies as a regular first-team player is special.

“I’m doing a couple of events in Hull, which I’m excited about because no beneficiary has ever done anything over there.

“It’s exciting to be able to do something back where I learnt how to play cricket.

“Then, on top of the Lord’s long room dinner that most lads do, it looks like I’m going to have one at the Houses of Parliament.

“It won’t be heavily cricket themed, but for a lad from Hull, who has come through and played a bit, to have a dinner at the Houses of Parliament, is something I can reflect upon in years to come.”