Yorkshire’s aims are two-fold heading into tomorrow’s Vitality Blast clash with champions and North Group leaders Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
The Vikings, second in the table on 15 points from 11 games – two adrift of the Outlaws, are already very likely qualifiers for their first quarter-final since 2016.
But they don’t want to leave anything to chance.
They are also targeting an improvement in away form given that if success is to come in this season’s Blast, every game from now will be played away from fortress Emerald Headingley.
Tomorrow’s fixture (6.30pm) against the Outlaws is the first of three remaining group games, all away from home – Lancashire and Derbyshire follow next Saturday and Sunday.
Yorkshire would then be unable to play a home quarter-final at Headingley between August 24-27 should they earn that right with a top two finish in the group because of a clash with the England v India Test Match.
And then, Finals Day is scheduled for Edgbaston on September 18.
Yorkshire have only won one of four away games in the 2021 Blast – against Worcestershire at New Road on the back of a scintillating century from Jonny Bairstow.
In comparison, they are unbeaten at Headingley having won six of seven games with the other a rainy No Result against Durham.
“Our record away from home is poor, there’s no doubt about it. It’s because we don’t adapt to different pitches,” said coach Andrew Gale.
“We’ve worked on this since January in the East Stand.
“We’ve had different mats down to replicate different styles of pitches and have re-enacted games. You know, ‘If we get on this pitch away from home, how are we going to play?’
“When we don’t do it out there, it does frustrate me. But, let’s be honest, we’re a little bit inexperienced.
“Joe Root may be back for the last couple of T20s, and he makes a massive difference because he reads the pitch well.”
Yorkshire head into Friday against a Notts side who have also won seven of 11 games but are ahead having tied against Worcestershire, Lancashire and Derbyshire.
They will be without Jake Ball and Ben Duckett having been called into England’s brand new one-day international squad for the Pakistan series following the Coronavirus complications of earlier in the week.
Yorkshire will arrive in the East Midlands in buoyant mood having won their last Blast match against Lancashire at Headingley last Friday night.
Defending 180, Yorkshire were given a scare as their rivals recovered from 70-4 to get it down to 10 needed off the last three balls before Lockie Ferguson’s hat-trick.
The New Zealander’s heroics were central to a manic finish as the scoreboard took time to catch up following an errant umpiring signal.
“When that last over was happening and there was a big pause as they sorted the scoreboard out, I was nipping a bit!” said all-rounder George Hill.
“I actually felt a bit sick to be honest with you. I was just hoping we’d get over the line. Thankfully we did.
“When we won, it was one of the best moments I’ve had on a cricket pitch – possibly the best moment.
“4,000 people there, it sounded a lot louder than that.
“Hopefully we can go to Notts with that confidence and put on another good performance.”
Harry Brook is currently in the form of his life. Averaging 115.75 in the Blast, he is also the leading run-scorer in the competition with 463 runs.
And that was followed by his sensational 113 in this week’s Championship win over Northamptonshire on a tricky pitch.
While he leads the way with the runs for Yorkshire and the competition, no Vikings bowler has more wickets than overseas fast bowler Ferguson’s 14.
“Lockie has been outstanding for us,” added Brook.
“It’s just his calming influence around the dressing room, and he’s a top bloke.
“The players I’ve played with overseas wise since I’ve been playing, he’s right up there with the best.”
Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid, Joe Root and David Willey are all in isolation following seven Covid-19 cases in the England camp earlier this week. Dawid Malan is unavailable having been called up to England’s replacement squad for the Pakistan series.
Sam Northeast, who is on loan, will make his Yorkshire Vikings debut.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore (broken finger) and Will Fraine (oblique strain) remain on the sidelines.
14-man squad to take on Notts Outlaws
Harry Duke (Wicketkeeper)
Adam Lyth (Captain)
A look at the opposition – Notts Outlaws
Coach: Peter Moores
Captain: Steven Mullaney
Last Year’s Performance: Champions
2020 Leading Runscorer: Joe Clarke (371, 37.10)
2020 Leading Wicket Taker: Jake Ball (19, 13.63)
Overseas players: Dane Paterson (South Africa – whole tournament)
Key man: Alex Hales – Had a sub-par Blast in 2020 yet bounced back as top scorer in the Big Bash and with 8,066 runs is the highest scoring Englishman in T20 history.
Flies under the radar: Steven Mullaney – Seldom makes headlines but scores quickly and has a knack of chipping in with vital wickets with his medium pace wobblers.
Best Player Under 24: Lyndon James – Yet to appear in the Blast but is expected to get his chance after impressing with bat and ball in red ball cricket this season.
Blast expectations: Semi-finalists three times in the last four seasons and winners twice, the defending champions are among the favourites again, although they must manage without left-arm spinner Imad Wasim from their title-winning team because of the clash with the rearranged Pakistan Super League, while 2020 leading wicket-taker Jake Ball has not played any cricket since April 9 because of a back injury.
Nonetheless, with a top order comprising Alex Hales, Ben Duckett and Joe Clarke and big hitters such as Dan Christian and Tom Moores in the middle, Nottinghamshire should score heavily again, while Wasim’s absence will an opportunity for veteran all-rounder Samit Patel to show he can still make an impact in his 19th T20 campaign, having made 191 appearances since the competition began in 2003, more than any other player. Anything less than another trip to Finals Day will be seen as a disappointment.
The Key Statistics
• The total of 20 T20 matches which Yorkshire have lost against Nottinghamshire represents its worst record against any county.
• The 2017 T20 match at Trent Bridge between these two counties produced both Nottinghamshire’s (225 for five) and Yorkshire’s (223 for five) highest innings in this series on that ground.
• Despite the high scoring in T20 matches between these two counties (ten scores of 200 or over) only Alex Hales (101 for Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in 2017) has made an individual century, Yorkshire’s best being 96 not out by Matthew Wood at the same ground in 2004.
• The best bowling for either county in this series is five for 31 by Adam Lyth at Trent Bridge in 2019, Nottinghamshire’s best being five for 43 by Luke Fletcher on the same ground in 2020.
• Yorkshire’s best bowling performance T20 matches between these two counties is five for 31 by Adam Lyth in 2019 but Nottinghamshire’s best is three for 16 by Harry Gurney at Trent Bridge in 2016.
HOW TO FOLLOW
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.