Friendly, what friendly? Yorkshire will face Lancashire in a two-day warm-up game at Emerald Headingley next month, and White Rose coach Andrew Gale is expecting the competition to be fierce.
“Whether it’s a friendly or not, you always want to do well in a Roses game and put a marker down,” said the former Championship-winning captain.
The counties have announced the behind-closed-doors fixture for July 24 and 25, with a four-camera live stream available to both sets of members.
It will be a week away from what is hoped to be the start of competitive county fixtures on August 1, paving the way for a two-month season following the Coronavirus enforced delay.
“It will be the first time the lads have played against any opposition, so that will bring a natural intensity for both sides.
“We will be a week away from the season, so they will be pretty much at full throttle.
“We just have to make sure the lads are ready for that, and I’m sure they will be.
“It’s going to be live streamed, so I’m sure plenty of people will be tuning in and getting their first county cricket fix. It should just whet their appetite for what’s to come.
“We’re hoping to play a couple of friendlies, with another two-dayer a possibility.
“It will be a good opportunity for the lads to warm up.”
Gale will oversee a phased return to training for the Yorkshire squad from Monday.
“The next few weeks will be a quick turnaround, but we’ll get the lads as ready as we can before we get into the season proper,” said Gale.
“It sounds like we’re going to be playing some Championship cricket in August, so we want to be as ready as we can be.
“We have some pretty solid plans in place, weather permitting.
“We have a full six-day week of one-to-ones next week. It will be pretty full on. That’s stage one in the ECB guidelines.
“The following week is small group sessions, then by week three it’s squad sessions. Then it’s practice games and into the season.
“This week has been a case of getting everything in place and making sure the lads know exactly what they’re doing because we want to abide by the guidelines.”
So what will next week’s one-to-one sessions look like?
Gale explained: “From a batting point of view, the hour and a half will be very much about what the player wants to do, whether that’s on a bowling machine or facing the dog stick.
“For the bowlers, it’s about getting enough overs into their legs and building up the intensity. We’re probably looking at 15-20 overs through the week.
“With everyone, it will be a case of getting back to basics and just enjoying being back in the mix. There will be a lot of excitement within the squad.”
Gale has been back at Headingley working with the Yorkshire players named in England’s 55-man back to training squad – Jonny Bairstow, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid and David Willey. Joe Root has been training at Trent Bridge.
“It’s been brilliant,” said Gale. “I’ve really enjoyed being back in the swing of things.”
It is likely the two-day friendly against Lancashire will be played as a one innings per day game.
“I would imagine it will be something like that,” added Gale.
“We might put separate batting and bowling sides out.
“If it goes through, another friendly will be a few days later, so if a batter misses out against Lancs he will get another opportunity.
“It will be intense, but we won’t just be putting eleven players out. We want to be giving as many lads a run out as possible.”