Yorkshire’s preparations for their vital LV= Division One match against Middlesex have been hit by injury with both Moin Ashraf and Gary Ballance ruled out of the top of the table clash.
Ashraf has a stiff back while Ballance is suffering from a virus, so both players have been omitted from the 13-man squad announced by Jason Gillespie.
However, following his appearance as very much the senior bowler in Sunday’s YB40 game, Liam Plunkett has been declared fit for the rigours of a four-day match and he has been added to the 13-man squad, along with Joe Sayers, Iain Wardlaw and 19-year-old seamer Ben Coad, who will make his first-class debut if selected.
The timing of the injuries to Ballance and Ashraf could hardly be worse, given the absence of Jack Brooks, who is still recovering from a broken thumb. One good piece of news, though, is that Richard Pyrah is fit for the game at Lord’s.
Yorkshire showed their faith in youth by their team selection for the Leicestershire game and the strength of the squad announced for the game starting on Tuesday is evidence of the wisdom of having a large pool of players available.
Andrew Gale’s team go into the game at Lord’s level on points with their opponents, both sides having played seven matches. Yorkshire are undefeated since their loss to Sussex in the opening fixture of the County Championship season, while Middlesex have yet to be beaten in Division One.
Both sides trail leaders Sussex by only five points as the County Championship season approaches its midway point and Gillespie has been encouraged by the performance of his players.
“After a poor start I think we’ve played some wonderful cricket,” he said. “We talk about driving games and being in the driving seat, and I believe we have been in each and every game since Sussex.
“We’ve been in a position to win the matches and I think that’s the result of the way we’ve gone out to bat and our aggressive bowling. Our fielding’s been pretty good but our challenge is to maintain these things and keep our standards as high as they possibly can be.”
One player whose standard could not be much higher at present is the Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale, who made a career-best 272 against Nottinghamshire at Scarborough and Gillespie was generous in his praise of his captain.
“I thought Andrew’s innings was of the highest class and his 297-run partnership with Gary Ballance was fantastic,” he said. “You just had this sense that there was a score round the corner for him and we said that when he got in, he was going to go big. He certainly did that.
Prior to the game at Lord’s, Yorkshire’s players wil be attending another famous London landmark on Monday when they attend a House of Commons reception to mark the club’s 150th anniversary. The reception is being hosted by the Selby and Ainsty MP Nigel Adams.