Friendly Preview: Yorkshire vs Lancashire
Lancashire travel across the Pennines for their second warm-up match ahead of the 2020 season
There was a time earlier this summer when we did not think this day would come. But it has, and county cricket is on its way back.
A clash between English domestic cricket’s biggest rivals whets the appetite for the start of the season proper on 1 August.
It has been agreed that this red ball friendly will see both sides bat for a day apiece.
And even though this fixture is a friendly, it will surely be played with an intensity greater than a normal pre-season warm-up given how excited everyone is to have cricket back.
Availability for both sides has been affected by England international call-ups. Jimmy Anderson and Jos Buttler are both on Test duty at Emirates Old Trafford, as is Yorkshire’s Joe Root.
Then, a number of players from both counties are part of England’s ODI extended training squad currently preparing for the forthcoming three-match series against Ireland at Southampton.
Red Rose leg-spin star Matthew Parkinson was also in England’s training squad, but he’s had to withdraw due to an ankle injury, ruling him out of the Ireland series.
The hosts will also be without star batting duo Dawid Malan (calf) and Gary Ballance (illness), although both will be fit for the start of the season proper. Duanne Olivier has been left out of their plans for this game having spent a week in quarantine upon his return from South Africa.
The smart money will be on Lancashire and Yorkshire being the two favourites to win the Northern Group in the forthcoming five-match Bob Willis Trophy.
Although it has yet to be confirmed by the ECB, it looks likely that the two best finishing group winners from the North, South and Central groups will qualify for the five-day final at Lord’s in late September.
While Lancashire were promoted to Division One last September after a stunning second-tier four-day campaign. Yorkshire have been there since promotion in 2012.
Former Middlesex captain Malan was their marquee winter signing, while the likes of Adam Lyth, Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Gary Ballance will form a powerful batting line-up when the competitive stuff begins.
Steve Patterson continues as captain, while fellow seamers Ben Coad and Olivier will look to spearhead their bowling attack.
Elsewhere in the North, the two counties are joined by Division Two sides Nottinghamshire, Durham, Derbyshire and Leicestershire.
WHAT THEY SAID
Graham Onions has been there, done it and bought the t-shirt in terms of his cricketing career, but the ex-England seamer is still feeling like a kid at Christmas ahead of this fixture.
Onions knows both counties will be wary of not risking injury in a warm-up fixture, although accepts a natural intensity will surround the fixture given it represents the first domestic action of the summer alongside Warwickshire and Nottinghamshire, who meet at Edgbaston.
“When we got told there had been a friendly arranged against Yorkshire, everybody messaged on WhatsApp at the same time, ‘There’s no friendly against Yorkshire!’,” he said.
“Good on Yorkshire for giving us the opportunity to play this game and get everything back going.
“It is a warm-up, so we’re going to have to be careful. But we have a responsibility to our supporters to turn up and compete.
“I’m excited, and it will be good fun.”
Expanding on his comment about having a responsibility to the Red Rose supporters, Onions said: “We’re very lucky at Lancashire that we didn’t get furloughed, so we ended up speaking to a number of members, many of whom have been life members for many, many years.
“I remember speaking to this lovely elderly couple, and they were just like, ‘It’s just our life, just what we do. We wake up and go to the cricket’.
“Well, it’s our responsibility to give people like that back a part of what they’ve been missing so much and love.
“The number one priority is to get back to playing and loving the game of cricket because, as players, we miss competing and people watching us.
“The latter is probably unlikely at this stage, but we are going to stream games and things like that.
“Then, the next priority is to win because that’s what we all aim to do and what our members and supporters want to see.”
Meanwhile, Mark Chilton, Lancashire’s performance director and assistant coach, says he was delighted with what he saw from the two-day intra-squad friendly at Chester earlier this week.
He added: “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t at one stage earlier this summer think we wouldn’t get out there at all with what’s gone on.
“It was a very informative couple of days. The lads approached it well, and there was a good intensity about it.
“It can often be a bit tricky playing against your team-mates, but I thought they handled it really well.”