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Yorkshire aiming to stay on top

— 1 August 2013

Yorkshire can probably look back on three complete performances this summer in the LV= County Championship. And their display against reigning champions Warwickshire at Edgbaston in May was one of them.

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They performed superbly in wins over Middlesex at Lord’s in June when they won by 10 wickets, against Derbyshire at Chesterfield last month when they triumphed by an innings and 113 runs and against the Bears, who they stunned by an innings and 139 runs in May when they bowled them out for 128, posted 407 and then bowled them out again for 140.

It was a display which really sent a message out to the rest of Division One that Yorkshire meant business, and that an opening round defeat against Sussex was firmly behind them. 

But the Bears have since improved in the Championship, and they arrive at Headingley tomorrow having won their last two matches to leave themselves on the fringes of the title race. A third win on the spin, and they really will be tugging on the coat tails of the leading trio of Yorkshire, Sussex and Durham with five matches to play. 

Not surprisingly, however, Yorkshire are confident that will not be the case. 

“It is a new game against Warwickshire,” said fast bowler Jack Brooks, who missed the Edgbaston clash with his broken thumb, which laid him low for six weeks. 

“They’re coming into it off a bit of form. It will be a tough game no matter what, but we’ve got to make sure we go into it full of confidence and hit that first game hard. 

“Varun Chopra’s leading them well in Troughton’s absence. They’ve had a couple of key players back from injury, and they’ve got a couple of wins. If they get another couple, they’ll be challenging for the title. They are the champions at the end of the day, and you can’t discount them. 

“But we’re going to be on our patch in form as well. It should be a belting game. 

“We’ve given ourselves a chance. We’re in the mix at the end of the day, and I’d much rather be where I am now than battling relegation or in Division Two with not much to play for. This is why I signed. 

“If we stick to what we’ve been doing, we’ll pick up two or three wins, and that will probably be enough. We’ll take it one game and one day at a time.” 

Brooks believes his injury lay-off may prove to be a blessing in disguise through the last two months of the season, which includes six Championship fixtures against Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Durham, Middlesex, Sussex and Surrey. 

“I’m going into the last part of the season still fresh,” he added. “I’m not stumbling into it with loads of overs under my belt.” 

Captain Andrew Gale is also relishing the last six matches of the season as his troops look to enter the county’s history books. 

“We’re just excited about the challenge ahead,” he said. “Obviously Twenty20 and one-day cricket hasn’t gone as well as we’d like this year, and this is our chance to win some silverware.  

“As I said at the start of the season, with this being our 150th anniversary, the boys will go into the history books if we win the Championship. The boys are just really buzzing and excited about the next six games. 

“We want to be holding that trophy at the end of the year and give the members something to shout about. Celebrating winning trophies is what you play cricket for Yorkshire for.”

Meanwhile, Gale and the coaching staff have named a 12-man squad for Warwickshire’s visit. With Phil Jaques out with a rib injury, sustained in our last Championship victory against Derbyshire at Chesterfield and Joe Sayers missing with a thigh injury, Yorkshire welcome back all-rounder Richard Pyrah into the squad. 

Yorkshire 12-man squad to face Warwickshire at Headingley: 

Gary Ballance, Jack Brooks, Andrew Gale ©, Andrew Hodd (wk), Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Steve Patterson, Liam Plunkett, Richard Pyrah, Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Ryan Sidebottom.