While Jonny Bairstow played in the opening round defeat to Sussex, Tim Bresnan and Joe Root will be making their first Championship appearances of the summer up in the North East.
With the presence of their international team-mate Graham Onions on the opposition team sheet, it brings a star-studded feel to the fixture.
Bairstow, Bresnan and Root all played in the three-day friendly against Lancashire at Headingley last week, and there are three Championship matches ahead of next month’s two-Test series against New Zealand at Lord’s and Headingley.
“We welcome them back from international cricket, and they have slotted back into our dressing room fantastically well. But they are all great mates,” said coach Gillespie, who is convinced their presence in the dressing room will be fantastic for their county colleagues. “They have slipped back into the dressing room scene very well, and we cherish the times we have those guys available.
“They are leaders without being leaders, and when they do move on to play for their country, we feel we have the players to step in and do an important job.
“You learn from your team-mates, and that’s something we talk a lot about as coaches. We are there to help the players, but they will learn as much from their opponents and team-mates. The conversations they have as team-mates will be some of the best coaching they will ever have.
“Those international lads are very good at spending time with their team-mates, talking about their experiences, and sometimes those conversations over a coffee or in the dressing room are as important as anything else. We encourage and welcome that.”
Gillespie knows that Yorkshire will face a challenge up in the North East whoever they have in their side. Despite losing against Warwickshire at Edgbaston last week, Durham had won their opening round match at home against Somerset.
“Under Paul Collingwood they’ve been playing some really good cricket, and we know the challenges we face in Division One cricket,” added the Australian. “Durham is a challenging place to go and play cricket, but we feel we’re up to it. We’ll go up there with a really positive attitude.”
Yorkshire had a mountain to climb having been reduced to 11-3 inside the first 14 overs against Sussex a fortnight ago. Even though they improved through the contest, they were left with just too much to do to salvage a draw.
It is accepted that playing at Emirates Durham so early in the season is one of the toughest challenges in county cricket, and Gillespie’s fellow Aussie Phil Jaques believes the first hour of tomorrow’s first day could prove key to the contest once again.
Jaques scored a second-innings 57 against Sussex, and he said: “It’s a tough place to go in the early stages of a season. You never quite know what you’re going to get wicket wise. It could be really slow and hard work for the bowlers or it could nip around and be hard work for the batters.
“They’re a tough side with a good bowling attack. They’ve got some really talented young players as well, so we’re going to have to be on our toes to win.
“Particularly with the new ball, it’s going to be hard work. I think whoever can negotiate that first hour with the new ball will probably win the fixture. It’s one of those places where you can lose four or five wickets very quickly, so hopefully we can rectify some of the issues that crept in for us against Sussex and be on the right end of it this time.”