Yorkshire are aiming to produce some fireworks with the bat as they bid to get their Vitality Blast campaign off to a flyer at Headingley tomorrow evening.

The Vikings welcome 2018 champions Worcestershire Rapids to HQ (6.30pm) for their North Group opener – the first of 14 group fixtures.

It is also the first of three games in four days, with trips to Leicestershire Foxes on Friday and then Northamptonshire Steelbacks on Sunday to follow.

But, first things first, and Worcestershire. If Plan A comes to fruition, it will be a fantastic evening lit up by an eye-catching batting line-up jam-packed with international talent.

Joe Root is available to play the first half of the competition and will be joined in the side by new overseas South African wicketkeeper-batter Donavan Ferreira.

Throw in T20 gun Dawid Malan, Adam Lyth – the county’s leading 20-over run-scorer – and captain Shan Masood if he has recovered from a wrist injury in time, and that is a top order to get excited about. 

Ali Maiden

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.  Yorkshire assistant coach Ali Maiden.

“On paper, it’s a great batting line-up – an international one,” said assistant coach Ali Maiden. “Headingley is obviously high-scoring, so it will be important for us to out-punch the opposition.

“We have to get that batting line-up firing quickly. 

“If you remember last year, we started slowly, then Mala started to get a few scores and we started to hit our straps. 

“For me, that batting line-up is a strong one, and there’s the potential for people to be a bit afraid of us – especially at home.”

Headingley is famed for its high scores. There have been 200 plus totals left, right and centre in recent years. Last June against Worcestershire was the perfect example when the Vikings won by 26 runs on the back of posting 224-4. 

James Wharton hit a stunning 111 not out off 56 balls from number three – his maiden and only first-team century to date. 

James Wharton celebrating his 111 not out in the 2023 Vitality Blast fixture against Worcester

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.  Yorkshire’s James Wharton walks off the field last June with a win over Worcestershire and a maiden century under his belt.

Of course, the 23-year-old is very much in the running to play tomorrow night, supplementing the plethora of international stars. He has the ability to upstage them all. 

Opener Lyth will walk to the crease tomorrow evening 79 runs short of 4,000 for Yorkshire.

“The wickets in T20, and four-day stuff to be fair, have been brilliant at Headingley,” said the left-hander. “Hopefully they are going to be the same, and we can get a big crowd in and put a show on for the fans coming in to watch.

“It’s an exciting top five or six we have, and I can’t wait.”

When asked about new signing Ferreira, who comes straight off the back an IPL campaign with Rajasthan Royals, Lyth said: “I’ve seen him from afar, on TV, and he hits the ball beautifully – and long. I’m looking forward to watching him play.”

The South African will take the wicketkeeping gloves for this competition. 

Donavan Ferreira

Picture by Punit Paranjpe via Getty Images. Donavan Ferreira  on duty with the Rajasthan Royals at the recent IPL.

As exciting as it will be to watch the batters, it will be just as intriguing to see what combination the Yorkshire management opt for with the ball.

It is no secret that they are down on fast bowling resources given both Mickey Edwards and Matt Milnes have been ruled out for the season with stress fractures. 

“We might be short on seam, but we have high-quality spin,” said Maiden, referring to the likes of Dom Bess, Jafer Chohan, Dan Moriarty, Root and Lyth. 

Both sides shared a win apiece in last season’s meetings, Worcestershire winning at New Road. 

If they are going to start well, the Vikings will have to beat a Rapids side who, as aforementioned, won this competition in 2018.

They were beaten quarter-finalists by Hampshire away from home last season.

Usama Mir

Picture by David Rogers/Getty Images. Pakistan spinner Usama Mir in action for Worcestershire in last season’s Blast. He has returned to New Road for this year’s Blast.

Coached by Alan Richardson and captained by Brett D’Oliveira, they can choose two from a trio of overseas players in their squad for this competition.

New Zealander Nathan Smith, a seam bowling all-rounder, is with the Pears for the whole of 2024 across all competitions. 

Fast bowler Yadvinder Singh is an Indian-born fast bowler who was signed from the South Asian Cricket Academy programme but will only gain a British passport in time for the start of 2025.

Pakistani leg-spinner Usama Mir has been re-signed specifically for this competition.

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