MARTYN MOXON admits Yorkshire haven’t quite hit their straps yet in the County Championship and hopes the team’s recent good form in the Royal London Cup can be carried over into the four-day format.
Today sees Gary Ballance’s team take on Roses rivals Lancashire at Old Trafford in their first taste of Championship action for over three weeks since earning a draw against Hampshire at Southampton.
Yorkshire travel across the Pennines in fourth spot in the Division One table, with their unbeaten hosts five points ahead of them in second place.
But with 11 games remaining, the table clearly counts for nothing at this early stage, Yorkshire having stayed in and around their rivals so far despite being without key players, most notably seam bowling pair Jack Brooks and Ryan Sidebottom, who are both back in contention today after being injured for the first six weeks of the 2017 campaign.
In all likelihood, the duo will be thrown straight back into the fray, no doubt alongside Ben Coad, the 23-year-old seamer from Harrogate who has taken Division One by storm with 22 wickets so far at an average of just 13.90.
“I guess in Championship cricket we haven’t quite hit the heights that we’d like as a team yet,” said director of cricket Moxon.
“But there is a long way to go and it’s now about us focusing on Championship cricket for a few games now and getting back to the processes that work and everyone in the team contributing and playing their part.”
Moxin admits having Sidebottom and Brooks back is a very welcome development, although it does present something of a selection dilemma for the Yorkshire coaching team.
“Having Jack and Ryan back available for selection again clearly strengthens the squad,” he added.
“They’ve been bowling for some time now and played a couple of Second XI games, so have spent time on their feet bowling in matches. They’re not completely rusty so it’s going to be a difficult decision as to who to leave out from the squad.”
“Potentially we’ve got six seamers for four places so who to leave out will be tricky. But whoever ends up playing will be up to the job.”
Less than two months into the season and Moxon has already seen enough to convince him that the current campaign will be equally as competitive as last year, which saw Yorkshire denied a hat-trick of successive Division One titles when they were beaten in such dramatic circumstances by Middlesex at Lord’s on the final day of the season.
“It’s about how we perform and we know if we play to the best of our ability we can beat any side in the country,” added Moxon.
“It would be massive to get the win because it keeps us up there with the top teams.
“It’s going to be incredibly competitive this season and we’ve seen that already. Every game is going to matter and every point we can get is going to be vital.
“There’s always something special about Roses matches, but it is just another game to try and win because, in the context of the season, each game is just as important.”
Yorkshire squad to face Lancashire: Ballance (Capt), Bresnan, Brooks, Carver, Coad, Fisher, Handscomb, Hodd (wkt), Leaning, Lees, Lyth, Patterson, Rafiq, Sidebottom.