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— 20 July 2018

Yorkshire are confident they can bounce back from last month’s Specsavers County Championship defeat to Surrey at Scarborough when they tackle Lancashire, starting on Sunday.

After the starter comes the main course.

The Roses rivals meet at Emirates Old Trafford in the Vitality Blast on Friday and do so again at the same venue, with both sides able to field all their Test Match stars.

Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow will play alongside England team-mates Jimmy Anderson and Jos Buttler for Lancashire as they warm up for the forthcoming Test series against India.

Both Yorkshire and Lancashire are struggling at the wrong end of Division One.

Lancashire are sixth in Division One and Yorkshire seventh.

Lancashire are three points better off with one win from eight, but they have played a game more than Yorkshire, who have won two from seven.

Last time out, the White Rose were beaten by seven wickets against leaders Surrey, while Lancashire drew a home game with Hampshire.

“We had a tough result at Scarborough, but the good form we’ve shown in T20 has given us confidence,” said former captain Gary Ballance.

“Hopefully we can carry that forwards into the four-day format.

“We’ve come up against some good sides so far. Surrey just played better than us over the course of the four days. We weren’t ruthless enough.

“We had our chances, but we didn’t take them.

“It has been tough for the first half of the year in the four-day stuff. But, if we can put more consistent performances in, the results will come.”

One significant positive for Yorkshire is that their destiny in Division One is in their own hands.

Given they are 61 points behind Surrey at the top at the halfway stage of the season, they are realistically looking at preserving their Division One future.

But they play bottom side Worcestershire twice, the same with Lancashire and Hampshire once more – all teams who are around them in the table.

Ballance has played in five Roses Championship matches, including his first at Liverpool in 2011, a feisty affair which the hosts won.

But the in-form left-hander insists tensions have never spilt over between the two sides and that the competitive rivalry is a healthy one.

“Roses games are different, in all forms of the game. There’s a bit more on them, and it’s always good to play in them,” he said.

“I don’t get involved in any of the verbals or things like that.

“If guys want to have a few words, that’s fine. It’s all good fun.

“They are well fought, but I haven’t been involved in any that have gone over the top, which you don’t want.”

Since the start of June, in all forms, Ballance has been in impressive form, posting scores of 38, 66, 91, 25, 109 (Championship draw with Hampshire), 21, 54, 15, 0, 79, 17 and 40.

“I feel very good, but I can’t take it for granted,” he added. “I’ve got to keep working and cash in with some big scores, which will hopefully bring some wins for the boys.”

Warwickshire leg-spinner Josh Poysden debuts after signing a one-match loan deal.

  • Team news

    First XI coach Andrew Gale has a full compliment of players to choose from for the first time in 2018.

    England Test captain Joe Root and wicket-keeper/batsman Jonny Bairstow represent the White Rose for a third time in the Specsavers County Championship this season.

    Josh Poysden, makes his debut for the Club having joined on a one-match loan deal from Warwickshire on Tuesday, while Kane Williamson makes the first of three scheduled appearances in the competition this season.

    Matthew Fisher has been ruled out of due to an injury sustained on England Lions duty. He’s replaced in Sunday’s squad by Josh Shaw.

    12-man squad to face Lancashire Cricket.

    Gary Ballance
    Jonny Bairstow (WK)
    Tim Bresnan
    Harry Brook
    Jack Brooks
    Ben Coad
    Adam Lyth
    Steven Patterson ©
    Josh Poysden
    Joe Root
    Josh Shaw
    Kane Williamson

    Match Statistics

    • Lancashire have not beaten Yorkshire in a County Championship match at Old Trafford since 2000. Their only home win during this period occurred in 2011 – the year they last won the title – but was at Aigburth, Liverpool.
    • In 2014 Yorkshire scored 616 for six declared at Old Trafford but Lancashire’s best against Yorkshire at the same ground is 537 made in 2005.
    • Yorkshire have never deen dismissed for less than 50 at Old Trafford but Lancashire’s lowest score at the same ground and against the same opponents is 39 made in 1874.

    2017 video highlights

    Specsavers County Championship statistics

    The opposition

    • Specsavers County Championship in 2017: Second place
    • Royal London one-day Cup in 2017: Group stage knockout
    • Vitality Blast in 2017: Group stage knockout

    Captain: Liam Livingstone
    Coach and Director of Cricket: Glen Chapple and Paul Allott

    Overseas Players: Australian seam bowler Joe Mennie arrives for his first taste of county cricket and is available for all competitions until early September.

    Mennie’s compatriot James Faulkner returns to Emirates Old Trafford on a two-year contract for T20 cricket only. The all-rounder was a star of their 2015 Blast title triumph.

    Other Ins and Outs: The Red Rose have recruited Durham pair Keaton Jennings and Graham Onions to bolster their batting and bowling stocks respectively.

    Their batting already looked strong before the signing of England Lions captain Jennings, but Onions’ arrival was a necessity after the return of Kyle Jarvis to international cricket with Zimbabwe.

    Mennie replaces Ryan McLaren as overseas.

    Luke Procter, meanwhile, has left to join Northamptonshire after a successful loan spell at the end of last summer.

  • Man on a mission

    Haseeb Hameed: Having burst onto the scene during the second half of 2016, the young opener even earning an England Test debut in India later that year, Hameed had a bit of a nightmare last season.

    He failed to score a century and posted only 513 runs from 12 Championship appearances.

    He lost his England place to Jennings, ironically, and suffered a broken finger in September – for the second time inside 12 months.

    This season, the Boltonian will be aiming to prove his troubles are very much behind him.

    Despite the arrival of Jennings, he is expected to continue his opening partnership with Alex Davies.

  • One to watch

    Saqib Mahmood: Fast bowler Mahmood, Birmingham-born but Rochdale-raised, is highly rated both by Lancashire and England, representing the Lions in Australia and the West Indies this winter.

    He has only played a handful of games in all forms for the Red Rose firsts, but has encouraged.

    New director of cricket Allott says: “We all really rate Saqib, but we haven’t managed to get as much out of him as we’d like at Lancashire. He’s had some injury problems.

    “I’m a firm believer that he will only learn now by bowling in the first team and at the higher level.

    “Saqib is one of those who I perceive to be one of Lancashire’s leading lights over the next number of years.”

  • Local hero

    Steven Croft: This season’s beneficiary at Old Trafford.

    Croft was replaced as captain this winter following some sketchy form with the bat in Championship cricket last season. He even made the decision to drop himself for a couple of games.

    Although he ended last season with a century, he may not start the campaign in the first choice team and will have to fight for his place. But that is what Croft is, a fighter.

    Still central to their limited overs plans. In fact, he hasn’t missed a match in T20 or List A cricket since 2006.

  • Prospects for 2018

    With a fair wind, this could be Lancashire’s year – maybe even their second Championship win in eight years.

    The Red Rose’s batting looks incredibly strong. Hameed, Davies, Jennings and Livingstone have all represented the Lions recently, with the latter currently on England’s Test tour of New Zealand. Then you add in former Test duo Shiv Chanderpaul and Dane Vilas.

    There are question marks about their bowling.

    How will they cope without Jarvis and McLaren? Will Mennie settle? Will Onions and Mahmood, two quicks at either ends of their careers, stay fit?

    In the spin department, it would seem likely that Stephen Parry and leg-spinner Matt Parkinson, another Lion who ran Mahmood close for One to Watch in this preview, will share the bulk of the duties.

    That aforementioned fair wind includes international availability.

    If they get Jimmy Anderson, especially, and Jos Buttler for a few games surrounding England commitments, they could be hard to stop.

    Last season could have been very different had they beaten Essex at Chelmsford during the opening week. It was a game they had much the better of until a final day Dan Lawrence hundred ensured a draw.

    From there, Lancashire were always a win behind where they needed to be.

    Buttler’s presence would definitely be better served with the white ball.

    Lightning have barely threatened in List A cricket since reaching the Cheltenham and Gloucester final in 2006, and since lifting the T20 Blast in 2015 they haven’t got out of the group stages.

    The Lightning are capable of so much more. Now they need to show it.


    • Specsavers County Championship in 2017: Fourth place
    • Royal London one-day Cup in 2017: Beaten quarter-finalists
    • Vitality Blast in 2017: Group stage knockout

    Captain: Gary Ballance
    Coach and Director of Cricket: Andrew Gale and Martyn Moxon

    Overseas players: Yorkshire have had their availability issues with imports in the last few years, with goalposts changing on numerous deals. But they are hoping three players will see them through 2018.

    They have signed batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Kane Williamson to see them through Championship, one-day action and the majority of the T20 Blast.

    India’s Pujara will start the season and play four-day and one-day cricket before being replaced by New Zealand skipper Williamson in July. He will play four Championship and eleven Blast group games.

    Other Ins and Outs: Very little to report.

    Towards the end of last season when things weren’t going the way Gale and Moxon wanted, there was talk of incomings and outgoings at Emerald Headingley. But that hasn’t happened.

    The pair have decided to show faith in the players they have, challenging them to prove last season’s flirt with relegation in the Championship was a one off for the champions of 2014 and 2015.

    However, all-rounder Will Rhodes, far from a first-team regular in any competition, has left to join the Warwickshire revolution.

    Yorkshire’s Specsavers County Championship statistics

  • Man on a mission

    David Willey: There are a number of players you could choose here if you want to reflect on last season’s troubles; Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Jack Brooks.

    But Willey is a player who needs a big summer. Rather than someone who struggled for form last year – he impressed greatly in the Blast – he just needs regular cricket to flourish.

    England white ball commitments have hampered his Yorkshire involvement, and he hasn’t even been a regular pick for his country of late.

    All the attributes to shine in all formats, including as a replacement for retired Ryan Sidebottom in the Championship. Fingers crossed he can make use of a more friendly schedule this summer. He could be available for 12 matches.

  • One to watch

    Matthew Fisher: A seam bowler who has been earmarked for great things since making his first-team debut aged just 15 back in 2013, the now 20-year-old was struck down by hamstring troubles the season before last.

    It impacted upon his involvement last year as workloads were managed. But he played the last two Championship games and impressed – with the bat as well.

    Fisher, now fully fit and ready to fire, has previously shown his capabilities with the white ball, and he warmed up for this season in Barbados by playing in the ECB’s North v South series and for the MCC in the champion county clash with Essex.

  • Home grown hero

    Adil Rashid: The leg-spinning all-rounder’s tag of ‘hero’ at Headingley has come under threat following his decision to forgo Championship cricket and concentrate on his limited overs game.

    He has received plenty of criticism on social media, while his call did surprise the likes of Gale and Moxon.

    Rashid insists giving up red ball cricket is not a permanent arrangement, and it will be fascinating to see how this summer pans out for the mercurial Bradfordian.

    If he doesn’t perform in the RL50 and the Blast, he may well come under further fire from the members and supporters.

  • Prospects for 2018

    Going back to 2014 and 2015 for a second, even 2016 when they ran Middlesex oh so close, Yorkshire were red hot pre-season title favourites. They were the standout team.

    The last couple of years, however, Division One has become much more competitive, and they were left behind last term.

    Following the departure of coach Jason Gillespie at the end of 2016, Moxon accepted the squad was set for a period of transition, with a number of seamers top side of 30.

    That included retired Sidebottom alongside the likes of Brooks, Patterson, and Plunkett.

    Unfortunately, that period of transition hit the county much quicker than expected, meaning an incredibly difficult first season in charge for former captain Gale.

    Let’s be honest, a fourth-placed finish in the Championship flattered the White Rose. A two-point gap to relegated Middlesex in seventh was perhaps a fairer reflection.

    Yorkshire should be better for that fright, and they could easily be title challengers. Again, a lot depends on England call-ups.

    But, going back to the original point, they are not favourites.

    White ball cricket was a head scratcher for the Vikings last season. Beaten by Surrey at home in the 50-over quarter-final, they then played some breathtaking T20 and, amazingly, failed to get out of the group.

    They topped 200 four times in an innings, including a record-breaking 260 against Northants at home.

    The county have to be amongst the favourites for both limited overs competitions.


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