Giles excited by Yorkshire challenge
Ashley Giles will tell his players to enjoy the challenge of taking on the back-to-back county champions Yorkshire at Headingley tomorrow.
Lancashire travel to the wrong side of the Pennines having won three of their first five Specsavers County Championship matches, most recently against Surrey at Emirates Old Trafford earlier this week.
They sit pretty at the top of Division One, and they hold a 19-point advantage over the White Rose side, who are currently placed in mid-table having won once and drawn four times.
Giles had been delighted with his side’s start to their season aside from the recent defeat against Durham at Emirates Durham. Even then, he says the way the side responded to that reverse was magnificent, admitting: “It was almost like water off a duck’s back.”
Lancashire drew at Headingley in 2014, and actually had the better of the contest, before losing at home towards the end of the season.
"It's got to be a good yardstick,” said Giles, Lancashire’s cricket director and head coach.
“Yorkshire were favourites again at the start of the year. They are a good team and very difficult to beat at home, but we'll go there and try and enjoy it.
“We're playing good cricket and there's a really good spirit in the camp. I think you can see that. But going to Leeds will be tough.
“They are the double defending champions, but we should look at that and be excited. Let's go to Headingley and give them a good run for their money.”
Lancashire started the season with many people talking about them as relegation candidates after two relegations in 2012 and 2014.
The squad, however, were keen to stress that they believed they could compete higher up Division One and even challenge for the title the club won in 2011.
Have the players been proved right, and are they genuine title contenders?
"That's for other people to say,” said Giles.
“I don't want this to sound negative, but we needed to consolidate in Division One. This side has yo-yoed a lot, and we needed to find a place where we could blood some youngsters and, at the same time, play some positive cricket so that next year we'd be further on for it. So far so good.
“There are 45 or 46 days left in the season. It's a long time, but if we continue to play that way, we'll be there and a there abouts.
"We need to keep an eye on the here and now. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.
“We're in a good position, but we've done that through being disciplined. I know it sounds boring, but I'm sorry. That's my way really. We just need to keep an eye on the here and now.
“If we keeping playing this sort of cricket, then we'll see come August and September. It's been a good start, and I'm pleased for the members to see us play some good cricket at home.”
Jos Buttler will be rested for the match having just returned from IPL duty, which followed a busy winter of limited overs cricket with England.
“He's had a long winter,” explained Giles. “I know some members will say 'what cricket has he played?' But he's been travelling a lot and has been in India a long time.
“Looking at what we've done in the Championship, we believe we have the resources to cover that right now. Having Jos back a little bit fresher will be crucial to us as a team.”
One man who will play is Kyle Jarvis, who took a career best eleven wickets in the match against Surrey to take his tally of Championship wickets to 86 in 18 matches since the start of last season.
Jarvis’s form has increased markedly from then after a difficult start to his Lancashire career.
Giles added: ”I really like Jarv. He has got an incredible way about him. He works really hard and wants to do well. But he is really tough on himself at times as well.
“The important thing for us what that he didn't think he had to get five wickets every time he bowled just because he'd played Test cricket.
“We also wanted him to enjoy his environment, which is hopefully what myself, Chappie and the rest of the coaches are trying to create. Where guys work really hard, but it's also a nice place to come and work. Jarv has flourished under that.
"There's always technical things to work on and improve. Tinkering is the wrong word. Most of it is simple, but they are things you move away from when you're under pressure.
“When he's going and in rhythm, there's very few bowlers in the country who bowl like he does and gets wickets in a hurry.”