Adam Lyth can’t wait to get stuck into what promise to be two memorable Roses four-day clashes across the next seven weeks.
Lancashire and Yorkshire, separated by only three points, sit first and second in the LV= Insurance County Championship’s Group Three table with four rounds of the competition’s initial phase remaining.
There is an 18-point gap between Yorkshire in second and Glamorgan in third, although they have played seven – one game more.
The top two sides after 10 games advance to the top group to fight for the title in August and September.
The Roses pair meet at Emirates Old Trafford from this Thursday and then again at Lyth’s home ground of Scarborough on July 11.
This week’s televised clash will be Yorkshire’s first game with a crowd present, while Lancashire will welcome a crowd to Old Trafford for the first time.
Lyth said: “Every Roses game is important, but these two are heightened given we’re both up there at the top of the league.
“They are just ahead of us at the minute, but all we can do is play good cricket for four days. If we do that, we’ll be in a good place.
“It will be much more enjoyable to play in now there’s a crowd in.
“Wickets and milestones, every good shot, there will be more cheering and clapping. Brilliant. Perfect. We’ve all been desperate for crowds to be back in watching us.”
This week, a crowd of approximately 4,000 will be permitted at Old Trafford (25 percent of their capacity), including a small number of Yorkshire fans.
There will no doubt be barracking from the stands when White Rose players are fielding on the boundary edge. But opening batsman Lyth loves it.
“You come to expect that, and it’s all part of the fun,” he said.
“You have to embrace it and enjoy it. I certainly do, and I know the rest of our lads do.
“It will be exactly the same when they come to Scarborough.
“A Roses game is the nearest thing to international cricket, especially the T20s in front of a full house on a Friday night. But Championship games get the best out of players as well.”
With further easing of Coronavirus restrictions planned next month, it is hoped the Scarborough fixture will see a full house.
A Roses Championship fixture at North Marine Road was initially planned for last summer, only for that to be kiboshed by Covid.
But the first Roses game at Yorkshire’s iconic outground since 1991 has been rescheduled for this July.
“I think it will be a proud moment for everyone involved at Scarborough and around the local area,” added Lyth.
“I’m sure the crowd will be pretty electric.
“It’s been my home ground since I was a kid.
“I love playing in Roses games. I love the challenge. I love everything about them. To have one at Scarborough is going to special.”
Added importance for the two fixtures comes with the prospect of both sides qualifying for the top group later in the summer.
Six teams will advance from the three conferences, but only four games will be played.
You don’t play the team you have advanced with. Instead, half the aggregate of points accrued from the initial group games are carried forwards.
That means, for example, if Yorkshire beat Lancashire twice by 24 points to four (48 to eight), the White Rose would carry 24 points and the Red Rose four.