Match Preview: Yorkshire vs Lancashire
Two old foes meet again at Emerald Headingley this weekend for the first time in the Bob Willis Trophy
Lancashire travel across the Pennines to face a Yorkshire side second in the North Group knowing nothing but a win will do in order to keep their hopes of qualifying for next month’s Lord’s final alive.
With only the two best placed group winners from the North, Central and South advancing and with no fewer than eight teams already having a bigger haul than their 35 points, it is win or bust for Dane Vilas and co.
After their draw against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge earlier this week, the Red Rose camp did not hide from the fact they weren’t at their best.
In the North, they are behind second-placed Yorkshire (55 points) and leaders Derbyshire (57) having lost one, won one and drawn one out of their three games so far.
The White Rose and Derby - Lancashire’s final two group opponents - have won two and drawn one.
Victory would also end Yorkshire’s recent domination in Roses First-Class cricket.
Since Lancashire’s last victory over them - at Headingley in 2011 - this week’s hosts have won five of the eight meetings between the two, drawing the other three.
Both sides will have to contend with unavailability and injuries.
In terms of England call-ups for both the ongoing Test series against Pakistan and the upcoming T20 series against the same opponents, Lancashire will be without Jimmy Anderson, Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone and Saqib Mahmood.
Yorkshire will be without Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Joe Root and David Willey.
Lancashire have injury concerns over seamers Graham Onions (back) and Luke Wood (hamstring), while Matthew Parkinson continues to step up his recovery from an ankle problem.
For Yorkshire, is likely that batsman Gary Ballance will not be fit enough to make his first appearance of the summer following a recent illness.
Yorkshire have made a strong start to this summer, winning their opening two away matches against Durham and Nottinghamshire before drawing their most recent fixture against Derbyshire at Emerald Headingley.
Had rain and bad light not been a factor - 138 overs were lost across four days - they would have been confident of beating Derby having played the better cricket in what play was possible, including a fine 219 from new signing Dawid Malan.
Lancashire handed three First-Class debuts to George Balderson, Tom Hartley and Ed Moulton in round one against Leicestershire at New Road, while Yorkshire have also awarded three First-Class debuts - one in each of their fixtures so far.
Balderson’s fellow all-rounder, and winter England under 19s team-mate, George Hill played against Derbyshire. Prior to that, off-spinner Jack Shutt played against Durham and seamer Dom Leech opened his first-team account against Notts.
Yorkshire will have a new look top order given Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan played the last two games, batting at three and four, but are unavailable. Will Fraine and Tom Loten are contenders to come into the side.
These two counties met in a two-day friendly at Emerald Headingley last month in the build-up to the season, an evenly contested affair which both camps were extremely happy with.
In terms of County Championship games, it is almost two years since the last meeting - a late season 95-run win for Yorkshire at Headingley.
That clash saw Dane Vilas’ side make the early running. They bowled Yorkshire out for 209, with Graham Onions taking four wickets and three apiece for Tom Bailey and debutant Richard Gleeson.
Lancashire then made it to 105-1 in reply, only for things to unravel. Alex Davies made 87 in 252 all out before Yorkshire responded with 272, including four wickets for Bailey.
That set the visitors a third day target of 230, and by close they were 109-7 and later bowled out for 134. New ball pair Ben Coad and Brooks shared nine wickets.
WHAT THEY SAID
Keaton Jennings is relishing the fierce contest this weekend’s Roses fixtures promises to provide both sets of players.
The former Durham opener is well versed in viewing the White Rose county as a rival, even if it hasn’t always been whilst wearing the Red Rose on his chest.
Jennings (37) and opening partner Alex Davies (69) shared an unbroken stand of 120 in the second innings of the draw against Notts to boost confidence after a frustrating performance.
For the left-hander, it was his highest score in five innings in the Bob Willis Trophy, something he will be hoping to build on at Headingley.
He said: “It’s a crucial two games for us coming up, and we need to make sure we’re playing good cricket.
“We’ve been a little bit inconsistent at times, which happens - especially in a disrupted season. So come Saturday morning, we need to make sure we’re prepared and play some good cricket.
“I’ve been a little bit frustrated. You look in isolation at four knocks I’ve had and with four low scores in normal season you’d fob it off and carry on. But I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I want to do well for Lancashire and make match-winning contributions.
“I’ve played for Durham and Lancs, and Yorkshire seems to be the old foe (for both). It will be a good week - a tough week. Roses clashes are always hard-fought.
“It (County Championship away match) was meant to be at Scarborough this year, which may have been a bit more niggly. But I’m really looking forward to it.
“Yorkshire are the type of side who fight all the way. They never give you an inch and are hard to beat.
“You want to compete with those sorts of guys and at that sort of level. I’m looking forward to 11am on Saturday.
“Like I say, we need to be tough to beat, and when we get into these positions we need to be a bit quicker in realising the state of the game and just make sure we execute a bit better.
“That’s the joy of having a young squad. We have got some guys who have only played two or three First-Class games. They’ve shown some impressive things, but we as senior players need to back them and help them get up to speed really quick.
“That will start on Saturday morning in a tough contest.”