If Yorkshire can continue their stranglehold over Lancashire in recent Roses first-class matches this weekend, they will have taken a giant step towards next month’s Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s.
Since claiming twin victories in 2011 – their Championship-title winning campaign – the Red Rose side have not beaten the White Rose in eight attempts.
Yorkshire have won five and drawn the other three, not only securing back-to-back County Championship titles along the way but also the bragging rights.
Yorkshire are handily placed in the race to win the North Group and secure their passage to Lord’s as one of the two best placed group winners.
They are only two points behind Northern leaders Derbyshire having won two and drawn one so far. But there is no time for let up with only two group games remaining against Lancashire, starting on Saturday, and Leicestershire (September 6) – both at Emerald Headingley.
“To be honest, I didn’t know that,” admitted Yorkshire captain Steve Patterson having been told that his side’s unbeaten Roses first-class record stretches back almost nine years.
“You learn something new!
“But Lancs are a good side, and we respect them. We value the players they’ve got in their side.”
Both teams have plenty of thinking to do selection wise having been affected by injuries and international call-ups.
Yorkshire will be without Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan and David Willey after their England T20 call-ups, while Lancashire pair Saqib Mahmood and Liam Livingstone are missing for the same reason.
Yorkshire could welcome back new ball seamer Ben Coad from a tear in his oblique muscle, but Matthew Fisher (abdominal tear) and Gary Ballance (illness) are likely to miss out again.
Third-placed Lancashire have injury concerns over bowlers Graham Onions, Matthew Parkinson and Luke Wood.
“We’re losing two international players against Lancashire (Bairstow and Malan), so we’ll have to bring two batsmen in to fill the gaps,” said Patterson.
“That will be a challenge for us, but it’s how we respond to that challenge.
“From my perspective, it’s about whoever we play we back them. It’s an opportunity for them to learn and showcase what they can do.”
Will Fraine and Tom Loten would seem likely be in contention.
Patterson continued: “We played a pre-season friendly against Lancs – a two-dayer – and we came out on top in quite a positive fashion.
“We’re looking forward to the game and know if we play the quality of cricket we’re capable of, we’ll stand a decent chance.
“We’ve got to push hard and see where we end up come the end of the week.”
Yorkshire (55 points) are two behind group leaders Derbyshire. Essex lead the South on 61 points, while in the Central Worcestershire have 57 points and Somerset 56.
Prior to the start of the competition, given the condensed nature of the five-game group stage, Patterson admitted he expected to see more attacking and creative cricket from captains.
With only two games remaining to secure qualification, that theory comes back into focus.
Lancashire, for example, are sat on 35 points having lost one, won one and drawn one.
Eight teams across the three groups have better records than them at present, meaning it is win or bust for them this weekend.
“I do expect more of that kind of thing – more creative thinking from various teams,” said Patterson.
“I noticed Durham and Leicester set up a game this week, forfeiting innings to try and create a result (it finished in a draw anyway).
“As we get deeper and deeper into the comp, more teams will have to look at that. Teams will be scrambling to give themselves a chance come that last game.
“It will also be interesting to see how teams play it selection wise, certainly coming to the last round.