Yorkshire are getting a player desperate to prove his worth in T20 cricket, says Andrew Gale after signing opener Mark Stoneman from Surrey.
Injuries and unavailability has forced the White Rose coach into the loan market.
The former Durham and England left-hander will play five out of the six remaining Vitality Blast North Group games, starting against Northamptonshire Steelbacks at Emerald Headingley tonight (6.30pm).
Injuries to Tom Kohler-Cadmore (broken finger) and Will Fraine (side tear) leave them both around three weeks away from fitness, while England one-day duty for Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan rule them out of action.
Malan’s call-up only came yesterday morning as an injury replacement for Jos Buttler.
Stoneman has not played a Blast game for Surrey this year and only one last year, despite being a regular at the top of their County Championship order.
Still, the Durham native has played 73 times in this format, scoring seven fifties.
And, just as importantly, he has scored three fifties in second-team T20 for Surrey over the last few weeks.
“I know Mark pretty well having played against him a lot. He’s an experienced guy who is chomping at the bit. We managed to get that deal over the line,” explained Gale.
“He’ll open the batting with Lythy. He’s an explosive player who picks the short ball up really well.
“He’s a player who is hungry to do well. Speaking to him yesterday, he said he would walk up to play T20 cricket for Yorkshire because he’s disappointed at not being in the Surrey set-up.
“We’ve got a player with a point to prove.”
Gale continued: “Getting someone in wasn’t on our radar because we thought we’d have Dawid back from Wednesday.
“We knew we’d be short for tonight, but we thought we’d be able to get through and have Dawid back. Without that, we needed some more experience.
“We’ve taken Mark on loan for the rest of the group stage, five out of six games.
“There are two Championship games and a T20 in the middle. Surrey want to make sure he’s fully fresh for the Championship games. I get that.”
Despite last night’s defeat at Leicester, Yorkshire’s second in eight games, they remain well placed for quarter-final qualification in the North.
They are second on 11 points from eight games, the same haul as leaders Nottinghamshire, who have a marginally better net run-rate.
Nobody in the top four won last night, with Yorkshire failing to chase down 208 and losing by 34 runs.
“You only have to look around the games and there are a few teams who had off nights as well,” said Gale. “As long as we don’t dwell on it too much – now is not the time to be questioning ourselves.
“We know how to perform and what we need to do, especially at home. We have to do that against Northants.
“To lose our international players and those two all on one hit, it’s going to be a tough week. But qualification is not out of our grasp. I hope we can put a show on and get back on track.
“It should be a good day with the Diamonds playing before us.”
Test captain Joe Root will not feature tonight ahead of England ODI duty, with Adam Lyth captaining against the county whom he scored a record-breaking 161 at Emerald Headingley in 2017.
“Joe was desperate to play, but it’s out of our hands,” explained Gale. “Unfortunately the ECB won’t release him due to Covid protocols and joining up in bubbles.”
Last night’s positive came from the performance of Dom Bess, who returned figures of 0-21 from four overs before hitting 24 late in Yorkshire’s chase at Grace Road.
Bess has been excellent in his first full season of Blast cricket with Yorkshire, highlighted by career best figures of 3-21 against Derbyshire last Sunday.
Gale added: “Dom is doing a great job and has been a real find for us. To say how inexperienced he is in this format, he’s done incredibly well for us.
“It’s good to see him bat like he did, and his fielding as well.”
Northants are bottom of the North with two wins from eight games. But both have come in the last three nights against Durham at the Riverside on Wednesday and Lancashire at Wantage Road last night.
Joe Root is unavailable as he joins up with England ahead of the ODI series.
Loan signing Mark Stoneman comes into the squad alongside all-rounder Matthew Revis.
14-man squad to take on Northants Steelbacks
Adam Lyth (Captain)
Jonny Tattersall (Wicketkeeper)
A look at the opposition – Northants Steelbacks
Coach: David Ripley
Captain: Josh Cobb
Last Year’s Performance: Quarter-finalists
2020 Leading Runscorer: Paul Stirling (232, 25.77)
2020 Leading Wicket Taker: Ben Sanderson (12, 22.25)
Overseas players: Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan), Wayne Parnell (South Africa)
Key man: Richard Levi – Without Paul Stirling at the top of the order, extra responsibility will fall on the broad, experienced shoulders of big-hitting Levi to lay strong foundations in the powerplay.
Flies under the radar: Graeme White – Along with his consistent spin bowling, White also contributes valuable runs – evidenced by a 12-ball 37 not out against Birmingham to seal the Steelbacks’ quarter-final place last year.
Best Player Under 24: Saif Zaib – Having nailed down a regular place in Northants’ T20 side last season, the all-rounder will be aiming to build on glimpses of promise with both bat and ball.
Blast expectations: Despite featuring in three finals between 2013 and 2016, Northamptonshire have struggled in the tournament since the last of those, their second Blast success.
The Steelbacks peaked early in 2020, winning four of their first five group matches before losing four on the trot and eventually scraping into to the quarter-finals.
But, although Alex Wakely – who captained Northants to both of those Blast victories – has retired, there is still plenty of experience within the squad at Wantage Road. Wayne Parnell, a Blast winner with Worcestershire Rapids in 2018, brings further depth to a capable seam attack led by Ben Sanderson, while off-spinner Mohammad Nabi also looks an astute overseas signing.
The question may be whether the Steelbacks’ batting line-up can deliver the goods regularly enough to secure a place in the knockout stages again.
The Key Statistics
• Yorkshire have won each of the last six completed T20 matches between these two sides.
• Yorkshire’s highest T20 total (260 for four) and its highest T20 individual innings (Adam Lyth’s 161) were both scored against Northamptonshire at Headingley in 2017.
• Yorkshire have twice scored over 200 in a T20 match against Northamptonshire – both at Headingley – but their opponents’ highest total is 180 for five at Northampton in 2010.
• Two Yorkshire batsmen (Lyth and Herschelle Gibbs) have scored T20 centuries against Northamptonshire but the highest individual innings by their opponents is 76 by Richard Levi at Northampton in 2014.
• At Headingley in 2017 Azeem Rafiq took five for 19 but Northamptonshire’s best in this series is four for 23 by Andrew Hall at Northampton in 2011.
HOW TO FOLLOW
You can keep up to date with proceedings via the live stream that will be available on yorkshireccc.com. There will also be a match blog on the website, and the clips available via the match centre. Highlights will also be available after the game.