Yorkshire fans will be given a clear picture of Andrew Gale’s team selection for their opening County Championship match against Essex when they tackle Leicestershire at Grace Road on Monday.
The coach and former captain will use the two-day friendly with the Foxes to get his first choice players some outdoor action ahead of the Friday start.
Since returning from Potchefstroom on March 20, the squad have had limited time outdoors due to the wet weather, with two friendly matches against Durham and Leeds/Bradford cancelled.
The latter, due to be played this weekend, left Gale and Martyn Moxon with a search on for some alternative match practice, and that comes from Paul Nixon’s Division Two side.
“I would imagine the team that’s playing there will just about be the team for Essex,” said Gale.
“There are a couple of places that are 50/50, but the team’s nearly nailed down.
“We’ve got a few injuries. Ben Coad (hip flexor) and Liam Plunkett, who’s not fully fit yet (hamstring). Liam will play in the second team at Bristol (also starting tomorrow).
“We sort of made a plan for Liam to bring him back when he was almost over fit because of all his injuries. He’s had four hamstring tears in nine months.
“For him and us to get confidence to play four-day cricket, he’s going to have to get through a longer format game. If he ticks the boxes at Bristol, I’m sure he will be available for the second game.
“Ben won’t play against Essex. He might not play at Bristol. If he doesn’t play at Bristol, he will be a doubt for the second game.”
Although Gale admits the weather disruptions over the last fortnight are not ideal, he is fairly relaxed.
“The lads have rolled their sleeves up and been brilliant,” he said. “I think we got some good momentum from the pre-season tour.”
Gale has already given some clues as to his thinking for Essex, including a likely place for England under 19s captain Harry Brook and an all-seam attack.
He said: “Harry has had a fantastic pre-season. I think he’s got a good chance of playing.
“I felt a bit sorry for him last year because I know as a young batsman, there shouldn’t be that expectation to score big runs when you first come in. But there was because the other lads weren’t performing.
“For me, he looks the real deal.
“Last year, he may have thought ‘Am I good enough?’ at the end of the season having had a taste.
“But since he’s come back, I’ve seen a confident cricketer who knows his own game better.
“Nothing fazes him. He’s got that naivity and fearlessness that young players have. It’s almost as if he says ‘I can score runs against anyone I’m feeling that confident’.
“While he’s in that form, he could be dangerous.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on him. The first two games are at Headingley, which will be tough for any batsman.
“But as a younger player, if that confidence continues, he could fly.
“If Harry plays, he will be in the middle order.
“I think Pujara will bat three, Gary wants to bat four, so Harry will be five or six.
“Lythy’s record speaks for itself, he just had an off year.
“From what I’ve seen with Leesy, his stubborness for runs is coming through again. He’s one score away from being back in form.
“He’s had a good pre-season. You can tell since he’s come back how much fitter and leaner he is. He’s desperate to prove people wrong. And he will.
“With the weather we’ve had and the amount of wickets that fall to spin at Headingley, we’re not going to take a spinner to Leicester.
“I can’t imagine at this stage that we’ll play a spinner against Essex.”