Matt Milnes is in line to give himself and Yorkshire a timely end-of-season boost by returning to first-team colours against Worcestershire at Headingley this week.
The county’s new fast bowling all-rounder has been sidelined since April with a back stress fracture, his second in a row after spending last winter rehabilitating from the same injury.
Milnes was signed from Kent in August 2022, only to go down with his first back injury in his final appearance for the Canterbury side the following month.
He got himself back to full fitness under the guidance of Yorkshire’s medical and coaching teams and debuted in the LV= Insurance County Championship season opener against Leicestershire at Headingley in early April.
Milnes, 29, performed positively in a defeat, taking four wickets and scoring 90 runs in the match, including a first-innings 75 as nightwatchman.
Unfortunately, he reported more pain towards the end of the game and a recurrence was quickly diagnosed, ruling him out of the lion’s share of the summer.
Nottingham-born Milnes has since repeated last winter’s rehab, enabling him to play in three second-team Championship matches against Lancashire, Surrey and Durham.
He has taken 12 wickets in that time added to scores of 91, 34 and 36 with the bat.
Those performances have led him to likely selection for Tuesday’s final round Championship clash with promotion favourites Worcestershire (10.30am).
“We don’t know for definite who is going to play yet, but Milnesy’s likely to take part in the game,” said coach Ottis Gibson.
“From the time he was nearing fitness, we said that if the opportunity presents itself to get him back on the park, that would be fantastic.
“Exactly the same thing happened last year with Fish when he had his stressy. He played the final game against Gloucestershire.
“From a mental standpoint for him, he’s worked really hard in the gym trying to get back to fitness. He’s gone away and played those second-team games and bowled his overs.
“The first game he played, they were managing his overs. But he’s bowled his overs, and it will be really good to get him back on the park.
“He was brought in to be one of our main bowlers, so we’ve missed him a lot.”
Gibson was asked whether Milnes’s overs would be managed against Worcester.
“No, no,” he said. “If he comes in to play, he will come in and play fully as a bowler.
“The good thing for him is that because of our two batting all-rounders in Revis and Hill, we’ve got five seamers on the park and he doesn’t need to be overloaded.
“At the same time, he will be expected to play a full part in the game.
“I saw the footage from Durham, and he looked beautiful. He was running in with a lot more confidence. He practiced with us before that game and said he was feeling really good.”
A number of Yorkshire players will head abroad this winter to play some more cricket, be it in grade or franchise cricket. Milnes may well be one of those.
“We’ve encouraged most of our youngsters to go away,” continued Gibson.
“A lot of them have got opportunities – quite a few are going to Australia. And it will be the same for him. It would be good for him to get away and get some cricket in.
“Every young cricketer would rather be in the sun than in the East Stand at Headingley in December.
“The other thing, for him, last year I went to the ILT20 in Dubai and took four bowlers with me in January. There’s the potential for that to happen again with the bowlers who are remaining at home. They can get some good training in over there.”
Yorkshire’s clash with Worcestershire sees the respective counties targeting very different ambitions.
Second-placed Worcestershire need a maximum of two points to secure promotion, while Yorkshire are six points behind Gloucestershire as they bid to avoid finishing bottom of the Division Two table. Gloucestershire are away at Sussex this week.
Yorkshire’s mid-July draw with Worcestershire at New Road was one the plethora of rain-affected games in which Gibson’s side held the upper hand. Last week against Leicestershire at Grace Road was another example of a game which they could have quite easily won but for the weather.
Yorkshire made the Pears follow-on in reply to 407 all out at New Road, thwarted by a mixture of tail-end resistance and rain.
“We played really well there and dominated that game,” added Gibson.
“We’re deep into September now, so you expect the weather to be a little bit like it was at Leicester.
“Hopefully we can get four good days at Headingley to try and see if we can push for a win.
“I keep saying this all the time. I don’t think the points we have – not withstanding those that have been taken away – reflects the kind of cricket we’ve played.
“I think we’ve played some decent four-day cricket, but we haven’t been able to push for wins on day four.
“It’s been a frustrating season, but there have been some rewards.
“Beany has made some really good strides, and I’m really proud of him. He’s 60 or so short of 1,000 runs. That will be a phenomenal season for him. Lythy is very close to 1,000 as well. Getting there would be really good for them.
“I think Revis has improved this year. He’s done well. Hilly in a different role this year, he’s shown glimpses of his potential. He’s got bags and bags of potential. That’s really good to see.
“The message is, ‘Let’s try and finish the season strong’.”