Yin and yang, they’ve started with a bang! Harry Duke and Will Fraine are certainly the opposites attracting at the top of Yorkshire’s order in the Royal London Cup.
Both men scored standout centuries in yesterday’s opening day win over Northamptonshire at Clifton Park in York, and they will hopefully be at it again when Lancashire cross the Pennines tomorrow for a blockbuster Group B clash (11am).
The pair made an encouraging start to their opening partnership in last summer’s 50-over competition, helping the Vikings reach the knockout stage.
And they have started this season brilliantly. In Sunday’s warm-up win over Northumberland, they shared 110, Fraine making 88 and Duke 51.
Yesterday, against Northants, they put on 209, Fraine hitting a career best 143 and Duke backing him up with 111.
After that game, looking ahead to tomorrow and the rest of the tournament, both men spoke about how their opposite qualities are attracting at the top of the Vikings order.
Immediately after the Northants win, Fraine spoke about his power game harnessing with Duke’s rotation of strike, saying they work well “in a controlled aggression type way”.
Ahead of the Lancashire game, 20-year-old wicketkeeper Duke said: “It was amazing to have that partnership with Frainey. To be at the other end when he was going off was pretty enjoyable to watch to be honest.
“The way our games are, I think we marry well together as a partnership.
“That Northumberland game, we had some real good chats about how we want to go about things.
“On another day, it might be me who gets off to a good start. But it was Frainey who was absolutely flying. It was up me to knock ones at the other end and let him go.
“We score in different areas, which is what makes it a nice combination.
“He’s brilliant to bat with. I feel I can learn a lot from his power game. It’s something I can definitely add to my game.
“I loved opening the batting last year, and to have the backing from Ali to go and do it again this has been class really.”
To see Duke post the score he did yesterday would have been hugely uplifting for all connected with Yorkshire Cricket following his frustrations during the first half of the summer when he lost his place in the Championship team.
“The first half of the year was pretty tough for me, so that innings meant a lot to me. It really did,” he reflected.
“I’ve been in the second team for the last three or four weeks. It’s been a really good environment that Tom Smith’s got going, but it’s nice to be back up (in the firsts) contributing with the lads.”
Next up are a Lancashire side who had their opening game against Essex Eagles at Sedbergh School washed out without a ball bowled yesterday following heavy overnight and morning rain.
The Red Rose are seen as many people’s tournament favourites, with Indian all-rounder Washington Sundar recruited as an overseas player to join the likes of Tom Bailey, Josh Bohannon, Steven Croft, Keaton Jennings and Will Williams in their squad.
Opening batter Jennings will captain the side in the absence of injured Dane Vilas, who has broken a finger.
While Yorkshire are missing head coach Ottis Gibson due to the Hundred, Lancashire’s Glen Chapple is also absent alongside his regular assistant Carl Crowe.
Former Yorkshire captain Craig White has joined their coaching team for this competition. He has moved from his regular role coaching the Thunder women’s team to work alongside Graham Onions and Karl Krikken.
This fixture is definitely seen as one of the highlights of the whole summer – a Roses game at a fantastic outground.
“What a day for the lads,” said Duke, first reflecting on the Northants success. “That was a pretty good tone to start the comp on. It was a huge win for us, and hopefully we can take it forwards into Lancs.
“These couple of days feel like a bit of a festival of cricket here at York, all the stands up and the spectators sat so close to the boundary. I’m sure there will be a few more on given it’s against the Red Rose, who will bring a few across.
“The lads have had some great games against them already this season in the T20s. This will probably be another.”
Fin Bean, Dom Bess, Ben Cliff, Ben Coad, Harry Duke (W), Will Fraine, George Hill, Will Luxton, Tom Loten, Mathew Revis, Jack Shutt, Harry Sullivan, Jonny Tattersall ©, Matthew Waite.
Gary Ballance is unfortunately unavailable having tested positive for Covid-19.