By Matthew Fisher
How do they describe it in football, a six-pointer? Well, this week’s Roses game is definitely one of those. A 48-pointer.
It would have been a big game anyway given it’s Yorkshire v Lancashire. But the situation in the table gives it that added extra. They’ll want to send us down and vice versa.
It’s going to be in our favour playing at home, but we’ve got to produce a good performance. If we do, I think we’ll be good enough to get the win.
As much as it’s important for us, it’s more important for them given they only have one more game to play after this.
They desperately need a win, and they’ll have to make the running because of that.
And when a team has to make the running in a four-day game, it can catch you out a bit. They might try and score a bit quicker on one day to set it up or will strive to bowl you out. That’s when run-scoring opportunities come.
Hopefully, if we stick to our game plan and perform, we’ll be ok.
With the ball, if Steve Patterson and Ben Coad return from injury, they should be able to build pressure that we perhaps haven’t done consistently during the last three Championship games against Worcestershire, Somerset and Notts.
With the bat, it was great to see the lads post nearly 500 against Notts last week.
But we were going the right way with the bat even before Trent Bridge. I think we’d learnt from the Scarborough performances against Worcester when we were bowled out for two low scores .
We may have lost against Somerset the week after, but we played well and got into the mode where we weren’t going to give anything away during our first-innings 320. For me, it was only a matter of time until we fired as a batting unit.
It sounded like a decent pitch at Trent Bridge, but you still have to score the runs.
Special mentions go to Gary Ballance and Tom Kohler-Cadmore for their hundreds. That’s what we’ve needed, lads getting to 30 and 40 and going on to get a big score.
Tom’s waited his turn in red ball cricket this year and has been a bit frustrated because of that, as anyone would be.
I think he’s got the all round game to be a great player in all formats for us.
I bowled at him a lot with the red ball when he played for Worcester, and he was one of the hardest to bowl at because he knew where his off stump was and would drive when you over-pitched and pull when you dropped short. It’s a very simple game plan, and he sticks to it.
A lot will see him as the crash, bang, wallop of T20, but he has the game to adapt to the Championship.
I think that position in the middle order suits him best.
He’s that adaptable player who can dig in if you’re two down quickly or can take the game away if you’ve started well. I reckon five would be his perfect position.
I am hopeful of being available having missed last week’s game with my toe injury. But it’s nearly healed now.
Tim Bresnan and Matthew Waite had good weeks at Trent Bridge, so I’m not expecting anything. But it depends what the make up of the team is I guess – whether they want to play an extra seamer. That could bring me into contention.
My injury, a cut to the top of my left big toe, wasn’t as bad as the first time I did it whilst playing for the England Lions. It didn’t need stitches like it did the first time.
It cut open again during the first innings of that Somerset game at Headingley, and I was still able to bowl in the second innings.
Initially, we thought I’d be out for the whole game, but we started asking ourselves questions of ‘How can we get some more bowling in?’
What it came down to was cutting a hole in my boot on the top of it rather than at the end in order to ease the friction when I landed at the crease.
That seemed to work in the second innings as it didn’t get any worse.
Most of the time in training when I’m not off my full run, I don’t feel my toe. It’s only when I go all out and am at top speed. In that second innings, I only bowled off three quarters of my run-up, and that was alright.
I’d just like to finish by passing on my best wishes to Azeem Rafiq, who it was announced a couple of days ago is leaving the club at the end of the season.
Rafa has been a great man to have around.
He’s been particularly big on belief and taking the aggressive option in white ball cricket.
That’s a big thing in those formats and great to have in a team-mate.
You have to believe you’re better than the man you’re up against because it’s a tough environment when you can be smashed everywhere.
With what’s happened in his personal life, I give him all my love and respect.
At the end of the day, cricket’s not the most important thing in life, and I hope he can be happy with whatever life brings to him.
He’s a strong character, and he’ll pull through with support from inside and outside the game.