New signing Matt Milnes is targeting a return to full fitness in time for the start of the season.

Fast bowler Milnes, who has joined Yorkshire from Kent on a three-year contract, has spent his first winter at Headingley recovering from a stress fracture of the back.

The 28-year-old suffered the injury playing in what proved to be his last match for Kent at the start of last September.

But is hopeful that he will be ready and raring to go for the LV= Insurance County Championship opener against Leicestershire at Headingley, starting on April 6.

Milnes told The Cricketer website: “I’m on track at the minute.

“I’m back bowling, probably at about 60 per cent, which is good. We go away to Cape Town (soon), and I’m hoping to be near enough 100 per cent so I can get some overs in outside.

“This winter the majority of my time has been spent in the gym and not really cricketing until the last couple of weeks.

“Spending a lot of time in the gym, doing strength and conditioning, physio programmes, it’s quite tough when you don’t see an end goal. Now I’m back bowling, I can see that end goal. It makes it a lot easier.

“My only goal is to be fit and in the hat to play that first game.”

Matthew Fisher returned not one career best performance in Galle this week but two as he impressed for the England Lions in their four-day draw with Sri Lanka A, which finished today.

After claiming a first-class best of 5-34 on day one of the first of two unofficial Test Matches, bowling the hosts out for 136, he followed it with a maiden fifty down the order.

In England’s reply of 467 all out, Fisher contributed an aggressive 53 off 46 balls with two sixes and as many fours.

Unfortunately for the 25-year-old and his team-mates, they were unable to press home the advantage in the Sri Lankan heat, with the hosts responding strongly in the second innings with 663-9 declared. Fisher did not strike in 15 overs.

In pursuit of 333 on day four, England finished on 221-7, with rain ruining an exciting finish with approximately 20 overs remaining. Fisher had just come to the crease when the rain arrived.

The second and final Test starts at the same venue on Tuesday before a trio of one-day matches.

The Northern Diamonds will next week celebrate last season’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy triumph and hand out a number of awards at their annual Player of the Year dinner.

The Diamonds are hosting the event on Friday evening.

Last season, Linsey Smith won the Players’ Player of the Year gong, while Sterre Kalis won the Fans’ Player of the Year.

That there are a host of runners and riders for this season’s awards – captain Hollie Armitage, Bess Heath, Katie Levick, Smith and Lauren Winfield-Hill chief amongst them – indicates the success the Diamonds had.

Winfield-Hill is one who will not be present given the dinner clashes with the start of the T20 World Cup in South Africa, with the Diamonds wicketkeeper batter with the England squad.

Emma Marlow and Lizzie Scott, however, are back from South Africa, where they were part of England’s squad which lost out to India in Sunday’s Under 19s T20 World Cup final in Potchefstroom.

Harry Brook has earned yet more plaudits, with former Pakistan wicketkeeper Rashid Latif highlighting as one of the best batters in the world at present.

Following a stunning end to 2022, which saw the Yorkshire batter win the T20 World Cup with England sandwiched in between two player of the series awards against Pakistan in T20 cricket, Brook has started 2023 brightly with a score of 80 in the second ODI against South Africa earlier this week.

In December, Test captain Ben Stokes compared the 23-year-old to Virat Kohli, and Latif, who played over 200 times for Pakistan between 1992 and 2003, has done similar.

Speaking on the Caught Behind YouTube channel, Latif said: “If you look at Brook’s performance then in the last couple of innings he was just outstanding.

“He just doesn’t stop. He also became one of the most expensive overseas players in IPL auction.

“Brook is now one of the best players in the world at the moment, among the current crop of players. He could be the next Babar Azam or Virat Kohli.”

Dawid Malan’s sublime 118 in Wednesday’s final ODI between England and South Africa in Kimberley represented the Yorkshire left-hander’s fifth international century.

Malan has opened the batting in all three games for England as they lost the series 2-1, with him following scores of 59 and 12 with 118 off 114 balls, including half a dozen sixes.

He ensured England recovered from 14-3 to post a winning total of 346-7 before Jofra Archer claimed six wickets in a comfortable defence.

Malan has now scored an impressive three one-day international hundreds in 15 appearances, adding to his solitary centuries in T20 and Test Match cricket.

Adil Rashid also had an impressive series in defeat, the leg-spinner’s three wickets in the final fixture taking his series wickets tally to six.

Bradfordian Rashid is now closing in on wickets milestones in both ODI and T20I cricket. In the former, he has taken 175 and in the latter he has 93 to his name.

Jordan Thompson will hope to build on his ILT20 debut today when the MI Emirates bid to maintain their title challenge out in the United Arab Emirates.

All-rounder Thompson sat on the sidelines for the first seven matches of the competition, but he played in yesterday’s defeat against rivals Gulf Giants.

In a five-wicket defeat, Thompson took one wicket – that of James Vince.

The Emirates team, part of the Mumbai Indians group, are third in the table after eight of 10 games. They are two points clear of fifth place Dubai Capitals in the race for a top four finals series berth.

They play Abu Dhabi Knight Riders today (2pm UK) and the Capitals in their final group fixture on Sunday.

The Giants are second in the table, a team where Ottis Gibson is on staff as assistant coach. Adam Lyth’s Desert Vipers are top, though he is yet to feature, while Dawid Malan and the Sharjah Warriors are fourth. Ben Mike has also just joined them, but he is yet to play like Lyth.

In South Africa, Adil Rashid’s Pretoria Capitals are the runaway leaders of the SAT20 with three games remaining. The tiptop four qualify for the semi-finals.

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