Ben Cliff is set to make only his second competitive first-team appearance when Yorkshire face Middlesex at Radlett tomorrow, with coach Ottis Gibson saying: “He’s deserving of his opportunity.”
The Vikings face Middlesex in an effective dead rubber in the Metro Bank One-Day Cup (11am).
It’s the final group match of eight, and neither side can qualify for the knockout stages.
But it will be anything but a dead rubber for 20-year-old quick Cliff, who has the chance to impress and stake a claim for further chances in September and beyond.
Halifax’s Cliff played one One-Day Cup fixture at the start of last August, when he claimed one wicket in a rain-affected win over Northamptonshire at York.
He also struck once when the Vikings played the National Counties friendly against Cheshire at Nantwich at the start of this month.
This season, the former England Under 19 has claimed 28 wickets for Yorkshire’s second team in both red and white ball cricket, including a best of 3-22.
“I can say definitely that Cliffy will play against Middlesex,” said coach Gibson.
“Before the Leicestershire game all the talk was about the type of cricket that we needed to play to win two games (to maintain our hopes of qualification). Unfortunately we couldn’t play that type of cricket in that game.
“Cliffy’s been practicing really well, and it’s been tough on him.
“When you speak to Tom Smith in the second team, he’s been one of their standout bowlers. I’m sure he’ll go well.”
Cliff will come into Yorkshire’s team at Middlesex’s picturesque Hertfordshire outground in place of Ben Coad, who has been rested by Gibson.
Coad has been one of the competition’s outstanding bowlers over the last few weeks.
He may have only taken five wickets in as many appearances, but his economy rate has been quite exceptional.
In 44 overs bowled, he has only conceded 154 runs at a rate of 3.50 per over, often bowling his allotted 10 overs straight through with the new ball.
“I don’t think there’s any more need to use Coady,” confirmed Gibson. “We’ll give him a break and freshen him up for the four-day cricket that’s to come.
“We still have four important Championship games to come in September.
“Coady’s been brilliant at the start of the innings, bowling his 10 overs straight through. He’s been economical and has taken wickets.
“Also around the group, speaking to the young bowlers like Leechy and standing at mid-off, trying to help him along in his career, that’s the value he adds other than his bowling.
“He also batted really well yesterday (top-scored with 45 at Grace Road) to get us to a competitive score.”
Returning to Cliff, Gibson added: “He swings the new ball, but I think one of his best skillsets is in the middle overs. He bowls really good slower balls and has good change-ups.
“Hopefully, if we bat first, we can put enough runs on the board so that he can get into his work with some runs to defend.”
Yorkshire have so far won two of seven games in Group One to sit on six points, a run including three defeats and two rainy No Results.
Middlesex, meanwhile, have only won one of seven games, losing five added to a No Result. They only have three points.
They are captained in this competition by former England opener Mark Stoneman, also an ex-Yorkshire loanee, and include another former Three Lions Test batter in Sam Robson.
All-rounder Ryan Higgins is their leading run-scorer with 283, while seamer Ethan Bamber and leg-spinner Luke Hollman have both taken 10 wickets.
They lost by 10 runs to Lancashire at Lord’s yesterday chasing a target of 304.
Yorkshire last visited Radlett Cricket Club for a Yorkshire Bank 40-over match in late May 2013 when they lost by six wickets defending a target of 237 in Jason Gillespie’s second season as coach.
Former England white ball captain Eoin Morgan was bowled for a golden duck by Adil Rashid that day, but Dawid Malan top-scored with 96 opening the batting for the home side.
Meanwhile, Ottis Gibson has said that no conversations have taken place with Harry Brook or the ECB over the England batter’s availability for Yorkshire in September after his shock omission from their ODI squads to face New Zealand and Ireland.
England have left Brook out of their squads in favour of Ben Stokes, who has come out of ODI retirement to feature in October’s 50-over World Cup in India.
The England management have said the squad they have selected for the end of summer ODIs is likely to be the one they carry forward to the World Cup.
Brook, of course, could still go to India as a travelling reserve or as an injury replacement.
He is in England’s T20 squad to face New Zealand, but he has no cricket scheduled beyond September 5. After that date, Yorkshire have three Championship matches remaining in September.
Gibson said: “I haven’t had that conversation.
“To think that Brooky’s not in the World Cup squad is scandalous in my opinion, and therefore I’m sure he will be very disappointed in that. But, at the same time, this is international sport and sport at the highest level.
“These decisions are taken out of your hands, and you just have to get on with it.
“He’s a quality player, and we would love to have him.
“If he’s keen to play for us, the door is wide open for him to come and have a game with his mates and try and find some comfort. There’s always comfort in our dressing room for a player like him.”