Matt Milnes is set for his Yorkshire debut this week as the county’s new fast bowler continues his ahead of schedule recovery from a stress fracture of the back.
The former Kent quick is on track to be available for the opening LV= Insurance County Championship match against Leicestershire at Headingley, starting April 6, and it is hoped some friendly action against either or both of Durham and Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities will prove it.
Yorkshire face county rivals Durham in a behind-closed-doors two-day fixture at Headingley tomorrow and Wednesday (11am) before facing Leeds/Bradford in a three-day fixture at the same venue from Saturday.
Milnes suffered his injury in the latter stages of his Kent career in September, with managing director of cricket Darren Gough telling members at Friday’s AGM that the initial plan was to have the 28-year-old available for the start of the Vitality Blast in late May.
However, the hard work of Milnes and Yorkshire’s medical and strength and conditioning staff means he should be ready to frighten the Foxes next week.
“Milnesy is going well,” said Gough. “He will probably be making an appearance in this Durham game and have a bowl. He’ll then probably play in the Leeds Uni game.
“If he’s going to play in that first game, which I’d like to think he will, he needs to get some overs in.”
Milnes is one of a trio of domestic seam bowling recruits ahead of 2023, the Nottingham native joining ex-Leicestershire all-rounder Ben Mike and Australian Mickey Edwards on a British passport.
Milnes bowled in the nets during the recent pre-season tour of Cape Town and sub-fielded during one of the matches, and Gough is excited by his move to the Broad Acres.
Speaking after the AGM, in preview to the forthcoming friendlies, Gough said: “Having players like Milnes and Ben Coad, seasoned professionals who take wickets, is always very handy.
“If they’re both in the side, fantastic. But if one gets injured and the other’s fit, at least we have that cover.
“That’s what we’ve tried to do as a coaching staff, get a lot options. And they’re all different.
“We have Mickey Edwards, who has his ridiculous height and his pace. We also have Coady and Milnes who use the new ball well, Jordan Thompson too.
“There’s talent and pace from Matty Revis and Ben Mike, Dom Leech is coming on leaps and bounds and Ben Cliff has been excellent.
“I’ve been really impressed with what Cliffy’s shown over the winter. He was excellent when he went to Dubai in January (to train with the Gulf Giants). Andy Flower even asked about him over there.
“But they’re young players. We needed a bit more experience, so we signed Mickey.
“Bowling wise, we’ve got a lot of depth now. Batting wise, we’ve got a lot of good young players. Are they completely ready yet? Maybe not. There will be inconsistencies, but they will get chances and will improve.
“I remember from my own development, I was all over the shop one day and brilliant the next. We’ve got to be patient, manage them well and we’ll see how we go.”
That bowling depth has allowed Gough and coach Ottis Gibson to line up a replacement batter for injured overseas bowler Neil Wagner, whose arrival at Headingley has been put on the back burner.
Matthew Fisher is another bowler whose early season availability should be significant. He is back bowling again having suffered a broken hand on Lions duty in Sri Lanka last month and should be ready to face Gloucestershire at Bristol in round two.
On the batting front, Gough is planning for England star Jonny Bairstow to play two Championship matches in May following the broken leg and dislocated ankle he suffered in August: “That will a great boost for him, the club and England,” said the DoC.
Captain Shan Masood, meanwhile, is awaiting news of his early season availability. Pakistan have a heavy programme of limited overs matches through April and May, but the left-handed batter is unsure whether he will be picked for none, some or all of them.
Jonny Tattersall, captain for the second half of last season, and Dom Bess both skippered during pre-season tour matches in Cape Town.
Durham are splitting their squad early this week, with them also playing Durham University at the Riverside. Alex Lees will captain the team to face Yorkshire.
“With the boys having been over in South Africa, this is another good opportunity to get out on grass – this time at our home ground,” continued Gough.
“The lads have trained really hard this winter. It’s been great preparation, and we can’t wait to get going now.
“I love this month, preparation for the season, I really do. The ground looks fantastic.
“Richard Robinson, our new head of grounds, and his team have done a wonderful job.”
Please note this fixture will be played behind-closed-doors.