Yorkshire will step up their preparations for the new season next week as they begin their 10-day pre-season tour to Abu Dhabi.

Ottis Gibson and his squad are flying out from Manchester on Monday, and they will be playing both T20 and red ball cricket during their stay in the United Arab Emirates.

Yorkshire are one of five counties heading out to train and play at the Sheikh Zayed International Stadium complex; Essex, Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Warwickshire the others.

A sixth team – Team Abu Dhabi – will complete the line-up for a three-day T20 competition from Friday 15 to Sunday 17, with all teams guaranteed to play three games. 

The Vikings open up against Somerset on Friday before facing Warwickshire the following day. The Finals Day will see a final preceded by fifth place v sixth and third place v fourth on Sunday. 

Yorkshire then play a two-day red ball fixture against Warwickshire, starting on Wednesday 20. They then fly home almost immediately after the second day’s play. 

It is hoped that the T20 competition will be live streamed.

“We’re looking forward to it,” said coach Gibson. 

Ottis Gibson

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Ottis Gibson is heading out on his third pre-season tour as Yorkshire coach.

“It’s been a nice pre-season. The East Stand has taken a battering – the lads have done a lot of really good work in there. But it’s got to the point where you can sense that everybody is ready to get outside and get the season going.

“When we sat down as a group last week, we spoke about our aims for the tour and said that we want to start to develop the competitive edge which we’re going to need to help us get to where we want to be throughout the summer.

“The T20 competition we’re involved in, that’s a nice build-up to that.

“Then we have some red ball cricket at the back end of the tour.

“When we get back, we have a three-day game against the Universities and a two-day game against Durham.

“Hopefully, in there, the weather stays away and there’s enough cricket to get everybody up to speed to enable us to hit the ground running come April 5.”

Last year, Yorkshire travelled to Cape Town in South Africa. And Gibson is hoping things run more smoothly this time.

He explained: “Some guys will have had more cricket than others this winter having been away, but especially for the bowlers it’s about getting them enough overs to be ready to go.

Abu Dhabi

Picture by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images. Yorkshire will be based at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium complex.

“Looking back to last year when we went to Cape Town, one thing we realised is that we probably didn’t do enough out there for one reason or another – there was a bit of weather around, for example.

“Then, when we got to to the first game against Leicestershire, especially on that last day when we were trying to bowl them out, we had guys who had bowled 30 overs and someone was going to have to put in 35-40 overs in the match.

“Unfortunately, the guys weren’t at that place, and we have to make sure that we don’t make the same mistake again.

“We’re playing the same opposition in the first week of the season, and we certainly don’t want the same result as last year.”

As aforementioned, a number of players have been abroad this winter playing in different environments. 

They include Dom Leech, Matthew Revis and James Wharton all playing club cricket in Australia, while George Hill has done the same in New Zealand. Dom Bess has played first-class cricket in Zimbabwe, while Jordan Thompson was with winners MI Emirates in the ILT20 competition in the UAE. 

And Gibson is confident that everybody is ready and raring to go for this trip.

“Part of the reason for getting those guys away is to get more experience and to have a different experience,” he said. 

James Wharton

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. James Wharton is amongst those who have been playing cricket abroad this winter. The batter played in Perth for Wanneroo.

“Whether they did well and got runs and wickets, or whether they didn’t get as many as they’d have hoped, hopefully they will have still learnt a lot about their games.

“Everybody is in a good place. 

“Ben Coad has had some treatment on his knees over the winter, which we had to manage last summer. He’s been charging in in the indoor school, and I’ve been having to hold him back a bit. 

“Hopefully, everything goes smoothly in Abu Dhabi and we can have a full contingent of players to choose from for that Leicestershire game.”

If everyone is able to stay fit, it gives Gibson an embarrassment of riches to choose from for the County Championship opener against the Foxes at Headingley on April 5.

Take the seam bowling group as an example. 

Yorkshire have Messrs Cliff, Coad, Edwards, Fisher, Leech, Milnes, Revis and Thompson vying for selection. Hill is also an option with the ball.

But everyone will be needed across a long season, insists Gibson.

LV=Insurance County Championship - Yorkshire County Cricket Club v Leicestershire County Cricket Club - Clean Slate Headingley Stadium, Leeds, England - Matthew Milnes.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Matt Milnes will almost be like a new signing following a first season at Headingley ravaged by injury in 2023.

He said: “It’s an interesting thing that come the first game of the season, you’re having to think about rotation. But the reality is that with seven games in the first seven or eight weeks, there is going to have to be some rotation of bowlers.

“I don’t think we’ll play the same bowling line-up in back-to-back matches, especially if everyone is fit and raring to go. That’s been explained to the lads already.”

And, if things go well, there could be another seam bowling option added to the group in the form of an overseas signing.

Gibson said: “We’ve been having conversations with Joe Root to see what games he could be available for. At the minute, we’re still working through that to see what it looks like. 

“If Joe is going to be available for a number of those games at the start of the year, then it gives us the opportunity to go and get another seamer, perhaps. 

“Sometimes you look on paper and you have six or seven fast bowlers but  then two get injured and you feel like you’re one more injury away from a crisis.

“If we can boost our seam bowling stocks, that will give us another edge.”

And, of the overseas player currently signed up – captain Shan Masood, Gibson is expecting the Pakistan Test skipper to be available for the majority of the season, including from the start.

Shan Masood

Picture by John Heald. Captain Shan Masood could link up with Yorkshire in Abu Dhabi.

The left-handed batter may even join the squad in Abu Dhabi.

The coach added: “As it stands at the minute, from a conversation I had with Shan a week or so ago, he’s going to be available for the start of the season.

“It’s important that we get all of our pieces together and start the season well, and he’s a big part of that.

“Last year, we lost the first game and were under pressure immediately.

“This year, our aim is to get out of the second division, and we feel like we need to start well to give ourselves the best chance.

“If Karachi can’t qualify for the PSL play-offs, there’s a possibility that Shan may come out and spend a couple of days with us in Abu Dhabi, which would be fantastic for our team building and morale.”

Yorkshire’s pre-season tour fixtures: 

Friday March 15: Yorkshire v Somerset, Abu Dhabi Counties Super Cup T20, 6am UK

Saturday March 16: Yorkshire v Warwickshire, Abu Dhabi Counties Super Cup T20, 10am UK

Sunday March 17: Abu Dhabi Counties Super Cup T20, 6am – 2pm UK

Wednesday March 20 – Thursday 21: Yorkshire v Warwickshire, 6am UK

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