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BIG MATCH PREVIEW: YORKSHIRE VIKINGS V NORTHAMPTONSHIRE STEELBACKS

— 3 August 2018

Off-spinner Azeem Rafiq has spoken emotionally and openly about a tough summer off the field following an impressive milestone on it during Yorkshire’s Vitality Blast win over Leicestershire on Tuesday evening.

Rafiq has revealed the tragic circumstance which has impacted upon his lack of first-team cricket for the White Rose this summer.

In the win over the Foxes, Rafiq claimed two wickets, the first of which was his 100th career T20 victim as Ned Eckersley was caught at short third-man.

Rafiq, 27-years-old, missed Yorkshire’s pre-season tour to South Africa in March for personal reasons and has only played first-team cricket in the ongoing Blast.

“That milestone (100th wicket) was massive for me,” he said.

“I knew about it last year and wanted to get it then, but it wasn’t to be.

“I needed six wickets coming into this year.

“It’s been a tough season for me. I haven’t played the amount of cricket I’d have liked. But these kind of milestones are things that you really look back on with a lot of satisfaction.

“I’ve had a pretty tough time personally, which I don’t think a lot of people are aware of.

‘It’s been hard for myself, my wife and my family.

“My wife was here, and that 100th wicket was for my little baby boy Alyaan who we lost (in May). It was all linked to why I didn’t go on pre-season tour.”

Understandably, Rafiq is now determined to concentrate on his cricket and help Yorkshire pursue their maiden T20 Blast title.

Tuesday’s win over Leicestershire was their fifth from nine matches and moved them into the North Group’s top four on 10 points. Remaining there after 14 matches would secure a quarter-final berth.

Kane Williamson starred with 77 off 41 balls as Yorkshire posted 187-5 and then defended it to win by 60.

“Kane was the difference between the two teams and showed why he’s one of the top three batsmen in world cricket at the moment,” said Rafiq.

“He’s made such a big impact in the few weeks he’s been with us.

“The crowd just see what he does out on the pitch, but there’s a hell of a lot of stuff he does off it.

“He’s a champion bloke who’s so good to learn from.

“I’m lucky to be sat next to him in the dressing room, and you pick up so much.”

Rafiq went on: “We needed that win because the last couple of games (against Derbyshire) haven’t gone according to plan.

“Chesterfield was really disappointing on Saturday because we felt like we played 90 percent of the game really well. But Twenty20 cricket can go that way. Someone has a good couple of overs and they can win the game.

“Monday was disappointing in a different sense because we just weren’t at it.

“Getting the opportunity to bounce back quickly can be a good thing.

“To get that performance against Leicester was really pleasing.”

Yorkshire now face a Northamptonshire side at Emerald Headingley on Friday who sit bottom of the North Group.

“It’s important we back that win up,” added Rafiq.

“The couple of days off will come in handy because there’s a lot of tired bodies in there, and we need to make sure we come back against Northants with the same energy we showed against Leicestershire.”

Team news


Match statisitcs

  • Northamptonshire is the only county against which Yorkshire have a better T20 record away (won three, lost one, tied one) than they have at home (won two, lost three)..
  • Yorkshire have won each of the last three completed T20 matches between these two sides.
  • Yorkshire’s highest T20 total (260 for four) and its highest T20 individual innings (Adam Lyth’s 161) were both scored against Northamptonshire on the last occasion these two counties met at Headingley in a T20 match – in 2017.
  • Yorkshire have twice scored over 200 in a T20 match against Northamptonshire – both at Headingley – but their opponents’ highest total is 180 for five at Northampston in 2010.
  • Two Yorkshire batsmen (Lyth and Herschelle Gibbs) have scored T20 centuries against Northamptonshire but the highest individual innings by their opponents is 76 by Richard Levi at Northampton in 2014.
  • In 2017 Azeem Rafiq took five for 19 in Yorkshire’s T20 match against Northamptonshire at Headingley but the midland county’s best against Yorkshire is four for 23 by Andrew Hall at Northampton in 2011.

Milestones

Potential batting milestones in Yorkshire v Northamptonshire on 3rd Aug 2018

GS Ballance needs 13 runs to reach 500 runs in Twenty20 matches at Leeds

KS Williamson needs 21 runs to reach 4000 runs in Twenty20 matches

BM Duckett needs 53 runs to reach 1500 runs in Twenty20 matches

JE Root needs 80 runs to reach 1500 runs in Twenty20 matches

RK Kleinveldt needs 94 runs to reach 1000 runs in Twenty20 matches

AJ Hodd needs 100 runs to reach 500 runs in Twenty20 matches

JA Leaning needs 117 runs to reach 500 runs in Twenty20 matches at Leeds

T Kohler-Cadmore needs 122 runs to reach 1500 runs in Twenty20 matches

AZ Lees needs 143 runs to reach 1000 runs in Twenty20 matches

Potential bowling milestones in Yorkshire v Northamptonshire on 3rd Aug 2018

NL Buck needs 1 wickets to reach 50 wickets in Twenty20 matches

Azeem Rafiq needs 2 wickets to reach 50 wickets in Twenty20 matches at Leeds

JA Brooks needs 6 wickets to reach 50 wickets in Twenty20 matches

S Prasanna needs 7 wickets to reach 100 wickets in Twenty20 matches

Vitality Blast statistics

Vitality Blast standings

The opposition

T20 record: 4 Finals Day appearances
  • 2009 SF
  • 2013 W
  • 2015 F
  • 2016 W

Last season: 6th

Captain: Alex Wakely

Overseas Players: Rory Kleinveldt (SA), Seekkuge Prasanna (SL)

  • Big hitter

    Richard Levi – The second-highest runscorer for Northants in T20s, Levi remains one of the most destructive hitters in the world. Blessed with a great eye for a ball and natural timing to match, he can find the boundary at will and his runs from the top of the order are crucial to Northants.

    He was the county’s leading runscorer in last season’s competition, with 375 runs coming in only eight innings and at a strike-rate of 167.

  • Key bowler

    Richard Gleeson – One of the breakthrough bowlers in county cricket of the past few seasons. Gleeson’s elevation from Minor Counties to England Lions has been a fairytale story.

    Genuinely quick, his spearing yorkers played a huge part of Northants’ 2016 title triumph and his spell against Jos Buttler was one of the highlights of last season. Gleeson was badly missed during the Royal London Cup but having recovered from an elbow problem, is now set to play a big role in another bid for a quarter-final place.

  • Wild card

    Nathan Buck – His career economy rate may be a little high at 8.48 but his 45 wickets have come at 23 and Buck appears to have the attributes to be successful in the shortest format.

    Tall with decent pace, he hits the pitch and can bowl a hard length that is effective in T20s. If he can hone a yorker as effective as Gleeson’s, Buck could be the surprise in the Northants attack this summer.

  • Yorkshire Vikings

    T20 record: Yorkshire have only reached Finals Day twice since the start of T20 cricket in 2003. They were beaten in the 2012 final by Hampshire at Cardiff and beaten semi-finalists by Durham at Edgbaston in 2016.

    Last season: The Vikings finished fifth in the North Group with six wins and five defeats. They also played out a Roses tie away at Lancashire and had two No Results. That they didn’t qualify was pretty amazing given they topped 200 four times with the bat. They just lost a couple of key games on the road.

    Captain: Steve Patterson.

    Overseas players: Yorkshire are set to go into the Blast with just one overseas, the New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, who has returned to Emerald Headingley for a fourth spell. He will play nine group games from July 20 and a potential quarter-final.

    The White Rose had signed towering fast bowler Billy Stanlake, but he was pulled out by Cricket Australia in May. They have opted not to replace him.

  • Overseas players

    Yorkshire are set to go into the Blast with just one overseas, the New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, who has returned to Emerald Headingley for a fourth spell. He will play nine group games from July 20 and a potential quarter-final.

    The White Rose had signed towering fast bowler Billy Stanlake, but he was pulled out by Cricket Australia in May. They have opted not to replace him.

  • Big hitter

    Tom Kohler-Cadmore blazed a trail in the recent Royal London One-Day Cup, scoring 472 runs with one century – a career best 164 against Durham. The 23-year-old gained England Lions recognition as a result. A powerful striker who hits particularly well down the ground, Kohler-Cadmore played the majority of last season’s Blast for Yorkshire having moved from Worcestershire.

    He encouraged without dominating. Nicknamed Pepsi, he scored the fastest hundred in English cricket in 2016 when he reached 100 off 43 balls in Worcester’s opening night Blast win over Durham at New Road.

  • Key Bowler

    The obvious choice would come from one of Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid or David Willey, but given they are going to miss the first half of the competition due to England limited overs commitments, let’s delve a bit deeper into the Vikings squad.

    Seamer Matthew Fisher, 20-years-old, took five wickets on his T20 debut against Derbyshire in 2015 and was described by then coach Jason Gillespie as their best bowler in that campaign. Fisher’s development has been stunted by injury since, and he missed the first six weeks of this season with a torn side. But he encouraged in the Royal London One-Day Cup and earned a Lions call-up. Has good pace with plenty of variation.

  • Wild card

    Jonny Tattersall is in his second spell with Yorkshire having been released in 2015 following one first-team appearance. A batsman by trade, Tattersall was invited back to Headingley to play second-team cricket in 2016 and signed a one-year deal ahead of this summer.

    However, he did so with the Yorkshire coaching staff urging him to work on his little known wicketkeeping skills, something he had done as a kid before giving up. He played the second half of the recent One-Day Cup campaign and scored a crucial 52 not out in a final North Group win over Northants to secure a knockout berth and a career best 89 in a losing semi-final cause at Hampshire. The 23-year-old is set to keep his spot for this summer’s Blast.

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