Dawid Malan is hoping to mark his 300th T20 career appearance in grand style by helping Yorkshire Vikings see off their biggest rivals at Headingley tomorrow.
Lancashire Lightning cross the Pennines for a near sell-out Vitality Blast clash (7pm) which ranks as one of the best occasions of the entire summer, including July’s Ashes Test Match.
Yorkshire are aiming to build on last night’s fantastic win over Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, by eight runs as the Vikings defended a target of 183. It was the county’s first win of any kind this summer. Now for number two.
“We’d love that,” said England star Malan, who lit up the win over Notts with a fine unbeaten 95 as Yorkshire made a winning total of 182-7 batting first.
“Lancs are a fantastic side in white ball cricket. They’ve been good for a long period of time. But hopefully we can take this momentum forwards and put in a good performance.”
England white ball captain Jos Buttler makes his first domestic appearance of 2023 for a Lancashire side skippered by Liam Livingstone and also set to include Colin de Grandhomme, Saqib Mahmood, Daryl Mitchell, Matthew Parkinson, Phil Salt and Luke Wood.
“Hopefully Jos is a bit rusty having not picked up a bat for a bit,” smiled Malan.
“It’s great when you play against the modern greats. It enables you to see where you are as a team and as a player, what you need to do to play at that level.
“It will be a fantastic opportunity for us either way.
“A couple of our young kids won’t have played in front of a full house against guys like Jos Buttler before. It will be a great learning curve for them.”
As Malan says, “It will be a brilliant night”. Let’s face it, that’s no outlandish prediction because these fixtures always are.
The Roses Blast clashes rarely fail to deliver, even if Yorkshire haven’t had the upper hand recently.
Look at last season, for example. There was a tie at Emirates Old Trafford, a last ball finish at Headingley and a semi-final at Edgbaston when both teams topped 200.
Some good judges, David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd amongst them, believe this is the best T20 domestic fixture in the world.
As a career spanning 300 games suggests, Malan, 35, has played in some good ones in his time. That includes the London derby between Surrey and his old county Middlesex.
“I think they compare equally, to be fair,” said Malan. “But I think the passion the supporters have, die-hard Yorkshire and Lancashire fans, makes for a bit more of a niggly day.
“You have to try and avoid being on the boundary as much as you can!”
After the troubles in both competitions so far this season – three defeats and a win from four in the Blast – Yorkshire go into tomorrow’s clash with a star-studded Lancashire team with extra vigour after the triumph at Notts.
“It was great to get a win,” said Malan. “It’s been a pretty disappointing place the last couple of months.
“I think we’ve actually played some really good cricket at times without getting that result. So to be able to close out a game and get that win is great for the team and great for the rest of the comp.”
Since making his T20 debut for Middlesex in 2006 – ironically, against Surrey in the other derby – Malan has achieved special things in this format.
He has played 58 times for England, helped them win a World Cup, scored 8,175 runs with five centuries and been ranked by the ICC as the number one T20 batter in the world.
“When I look back at my career, I can be happy with what I’ve achieved,” he said.
“But I still feel like I’ve got a lot to achieve. I didn’t think I’d ever play for England. So to get that opportunity and take it has probably been the highlight.
“The challenge is to do it for a long period.
“You see some players play a few good innings and then disappear. I’m proud of the fact I’ve been able to put in some consistent performances. Hopefully I can keep doing that.
“To play for two really big counties in England has been fantastic as well.
“I never thought I’d play for Yorkshire when I first started at Middlesex. But it’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve enjoyed every minute.”
One of the things on his ‘To do’ list is to win the Blast with Yorkshire. There’s plenty of work ahead, but why not this season?
“One of the attractions of coming to Yorkshire was that they had a really settled team when I joined,” he said, having arrived at Headingley ahead of 2020.
“A lot has changed since then, and I guess we’re now in a bit more of a development stage.
“Hopefully the difficulties we’ve had in not being able to finish off games in red and white ball, we can learn from that and move forwards quickly to win more games and push for trophies.”
He added: “You generally only have to win seven games to qualify for the quarter-finals.
“Everyone thinks you have to win all 14 or else you’re the worst team ever. It’s win six, seven or eight, get to the quarters and then put three good games together and you could have a trophy. That’s what we’re aiming for.”