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— 20 November 2020

Yorkshire’s senior squad have begun their preparations for next summer with two days of medical and fitness screening at Emerald Headingley.

  • The players reported back yesterday and today (Thursday and Friday) prior to their resumption of pre-season training later this month.

    While elite sport can continue under government guidelines relating to Coronavirus, it is likely that training will take place in smaller groups, including one-to-one skills sessions.

    Yorkshire’s Academy players were due to return to training last Saturday, but that has been delayed until December 5.

    Adam Lyth’s 29-ball fifty was not enough to help Multan Sultans reach the final of the Pakistan Super League T20 competition earlier this week.

    Lyth hit three sixes in a 50 in Sunday’s Eliminator defeat to Lahore Qalandars, who went on to reach the final, only to be beaten by Karachi Kings on Tuesday.

  • The Yorkshire left-hander’s brief stay in Pakistan saw him score nine in his other innings, while he also took a wicket against Lahore.

    Thirty-three-year-old Lyth was recently hailed as one of the most explosive batsmen in T20 cricket by White Rose bowling coach Rich Pyrah, with the stats backing up the former all-rounder’s view.

    In the last two years of T20 cricket, anywhere in the world, no batsman has scored quicker in the first six overs of powerplay than Lyth has.

    Lyth tops a star-studded list of 203 players who have faced a minimum of 150 balls in the powerplay since the start of 2019, striking at 177.8 runs per 100 balls.

    India’s Wriddaman Saha is next, striking at 168.4, while the likes of Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien and England’s Tom Banton are not far behind.

    Emerald Headingley will throw open its doors to India and Pakistan next summer, the visitors to play England in a Test Match and T20 international respectively.

  • On Wednesday, the ECB announced the planned international schedule – Coronavirus permitting – for the summer of 2021, with Pakistan visiting Leeds first for the venue’s first ever T20I on Sunday July 18.

    India then play their first Test at Headingley since 2002, starting on Wednesday August 25.

    The matches form part of a bumper schedule around the country, with India the visitors for a five-Test series and limited overs internationals planned against both Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

    An additional two-Test series against an unnamed opponent could also be staged in the early part of the summer depending on the scheduling of the World Test Championship final, which is due to take place in England in June.

    England’s women are planning to meet New Zealand and South Africa, while England’s visually impaired team will also take on the Australians.

    The ECB have also confirmed the men’s T20 team will tour Pakistan for two internationals in Karachi on October 14 and 15 in preparation for the T20 World Cup in India, starting shortly afterwards.

    England have not toured Pakistan since 2005 due to security issues in that country, but things have eased significantly of late and the ECB are repaying the PCB’s favour after they toured England this summer in the height of the Coronavirus pandemic.

    Yorkshire fast bowler Duanne Olivier has spoken of his experience of playing without fans this summer, admitting that the difference was significantly more noticeable during the Vitality Blast.

  • The affable former South African international is hoping full houses will be the norm across the world, not just England, sooner rather than later.

    He also praised the authorities for their work in trying to ensure things were as normal as possible for the players through August and September.

    “Before I played international cricket, I played a lot of franchise cricket in South Africa when not a lot of people would watch,” he said. “So that wasn’t particularly new to me this summer for the four-day stuff.

    “But T20 cricket, you want the crowds in, singing and having a good time.

    “When there’s a full house, it just keeps you in the game that bit longer as a player.

    “Maybe the intensity for some players did slack off a bit with no crowds for those games, but the one thing they did well in grounds was trying to keep things as normal as possible with music in between overs and things.

    “That was a help, but it wasn’t the same with no crowds, who make a massive difference.

    “It’s a win for cricket when there’s a full house, and we all desperately want to see that again as soon as possible. I’m sure it won’t be long now.”

    Katherine Brunt’s Melbourne Stars will play in next week’s Women’s Big Bash semi-finals in Sydney and are rated as favourites to win the competition.

  • The Stars will top the group stage table. They currently lead the ladder by five points with only two games remaining, having so far won eight of their 12 fixtures, losing only once.

    Captained by Aussie skipper Meg Lanning, they also have the likes of Nat Sciver, Elyse Villani, Mignon du Preez and Annabel Sutherland in their ranks.

    The race for the other three semi-final spots is tightly packed, with Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and the two Sydney sides all in contention.

    The group stage finishes on Sunday before the semi-finals on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Saturday’s final.

    The competition, in which Yorkshire’s Brunt has taken seven wickets from as many appearances, is being televised by BT Sport.

    Sciver, meanwhile, who played two games for the Emerald Headingley based Northern Diamonds side this summer, has taken 16 wickets from 10 games and is the competition’s second leading wicket-taker, one behind Adelaide’s Sarah Coyte. Sciver has also scored 129 runs.

    Former Yorkshire overseas star Che Pujara is backing India to claim a second successive Test series victory in Australia, despite the odds being stacked against them.

  • The mouthwatering four-match series begins in Adelaide next month with a day/night fixture (Thursday December 17).

    India won the series in Australia during the 2018/19 English winter, with Pujara scoring a fabulous 521 runs with three hundreds in the series.

    However, the Aussies were without Steve Smith and David Warner due to ball-tampering bans for that series.

    This time, it is India who have a significant availability issue, with captain Virat Kohli unavailable for the final three Tests due to the impending birth of his first child. He will play in Adelaide before returning home.

    Pujara said: “It (the Australian batting line-up) will be a little stronger than what it was in 2018-19, but then victories don’t come easy.

    “If you want to win away from home, you need to work hard.

    “No doubt Smith, Warner and Marnus Labuschagne are great players. But the good part about our current crop of bowlers is that most of them play in the same series, and our bowling unit will also not be very different to what it was in 2018-19.”

    Jasprit Bumrah was the joint leading series wicket-taker with 21 in 2018/19, alongside Nathan Lyon, while fellow seamer Mohammed Shami claimed 16.

    Pujara added: ”They know how to be successful in Australia as they have enjoyed success there in the past.

    “They have their game-plans in place. If we can execute them well, they are capable of getting Smith, Warner and Labuschagne out quickly.

    “If we can do what we have done in the past, I am sure we have every chance of winning the series again.”

    Pujara scored 806 runs with four fifties and two hundreds in 18 matches across both County Championship and Royal London one-day Cup cricket in two spells at Headingley (2015 and 2018).

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