A repeat of the early May LV= Insurance County Championship win over Northamptonshire would do very nicely over the next four days. But Adam Lyth probably speaks for everyone when he says: “Hopefully it’s not quite as close this time!”
After almost a month’s worth of Vitality Blast cricket, Yorkshire return to Championship action at Wantage Road from tomorrow (11am) when Sam Northeast will debut having signed on loan for two games.
They come up against a side who they beat by one-run in a thriller at Emerald Headingley earlier this season, with captain Steve Patterson taking the winning wicket.
It is their penultimate Group Three fixture, with qualification for the competition’s top group in August and September very much up for grabs.
This is a clash between second and third in the group.
Lancashire are top with 126 points after eight games, Yorkshire second with 122 and Northants third with 110.
The top two go through, and a win would likely qualify Yorkshire with a game to spare. The final game is against Lancashire at Emerald Headingley from next Sunday.
“They are two very important games, but we just have to take one day at a time,” said opener Lyth.
“If we play solid cricket, we know we should be on the right end of the results.
“It’s been a while since we’ve played given the T20 stuff, but we’re going really well in red ball cricket. We’re looking forward to going down there.”
Lyth has some happy memories of playing Northamptonshire.
He was involved in the aforementioned one-run win earlier this season: “What a game!” he said.
He also scored his record-breaking 161 against them in the Vitality Blast in 2017.
And on Yorkshire’s last visit to Wantage Road for a Championship game in 2014, Lyth scored 230 in the second innings as he and Alex Lees put on 375 for the first wicket in a big win which put Yorkshire on course for the first of back-to-back titles.
“I hope I don’t get a duck first innings,” he reflected. “But I’d take 200 second innings, don’t you worry about that. Great memories.”
Lyth is Yorkshire’s leading run-scorer in Championship cricket this season with 629 runs from eight games, including two centuries.
And there will be an extra onus on him to perform in this fixture given Yorkshire are without Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Dawid Malan, who both played in the last Championship match – the victory over Sussex at Emerald Headingley at the start of last month.
All-rounder David Willey is now with England having played against Sussex, while batsmen Jonny Bairstow, Will Fraine and Joe Root are also unavailable. It is why Northeast has been recruited from Hampshire.
“It’s gone really well for me in red ball this season, and I’m looking forward to getting going again,” said Lyth.
“Hopefully I can put some runs on the board whenever it is – day one or day two – and get the team into a position where we can drive the game forward.
“It’s about putting big first-innings totals on the board. If lads get in, they have to be greedy. With the ball in hand, we need to put six balls in the right area for as long as possible. It’s pretty simple stuff.”
Ben Coad, Duanne Olivier and captain Steve Patterson all played second-team cricket against Warwickshire earlier this week, as have the likes of Harry Duke and Jonny Tattersall.
Northants have won three of eight Championship games this season compared to the four wins for Yorkshire and Lancashire.
They drew their last fixture against Kent at Canterbury at the start of last month.
Lyth added: “From what I’ve seen on videos, there’s been some pace and bounce in the pitch (at Wantage Road), and it’s also been a good one.
“They’ve got a good attack. We saw that at our place, but we just scraped the win.”
Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Joe Root and David Willey are all unavailable due to England commitments.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore (broken finger) and Will Fraine (oblique strain) remain on the sidelines.
12-man squad to face Northamptonshire
Harry Duke (Wicketkeeper)
Steve Patterson (Captain)
The opposition – Northamptonshire
Coach: David Ripley
Captain: Adam Rossington
Last Year’s Performance: Fourth (Central Group)
2020 Leading Runscorer: Charlie Thurston (357, 44.62)
2020 Leading Wicket Taker: Curtley-Jack White (13, 20.00)
Overseas Player: Wayne Parnell (South Africa – full season)
Key Man: Ben Sanderson – The Sheffield-born paceman remains the spearhead of the Steelbacks’ seam attack. His 244 first-class wickets at less than 20 underline his skills which constantly put opponents under pressure.
Flies under the radar: Curtley-Jack White – White emerged from an injury-plagued 2019 to take 13 wickets in last year’s Bob Willis Trophy, suggesting he might not be under the radar for much longer.
Best Player Under 24: Emilio Gay – The 20-year-old opener endured a tough Bob Willis Trophy campaign last season, but a match-winning 77 not out against Glamorgan signalled the potential of this academy graduate.
The Season Ahead: Thanks to Ben Sanderson and Curtley-Jack White in particular, Northants look well placed to bowl sides out, all the more so now South African international all-rounder Wayne Parnell has been recruited to complement the seam bowling department.
In what looks a tough LV= Insurance County Championship group boasting northern powerhouses Lancashire and Yorkshire the challenge for Adam Rossington’s side will be making sufficient runs. In last season’s Bob Willis Trophy, they only passed 300 once in the first innings in the only game they won against Glamorgan, thanks to the talented Charlie Thurston’s century.
Thurston aside, Northants will need Rossington to regain his red-ball form of 2019 and significant contributions from Ricardo Vasconcelos, Ben Curran, Emilio Gay and others if they are to seize the initiative in games rather than playing catch up.
How to follow
You can also keep up to date with proceedings via the match blog on the website, and the clips available via the match centre. Highlights will also be available shortly following each days play.