Roses warm-up shows that Yorkshire CCC are ready for Durham challenge

ANDREW GALE insists that Yorkshire are ready for the shortened county season but admits that former England batsman Gary Ballance is a doubt for their opening match in the Bob Willis Trophy.

By Chris Waters
Sunday, 26th July 2020, 4:47 pm
Updated Sunday, 26th July 2020, 6:44 pm
Well done: Yorkshire's Matthew Waite is congratulated on dismissing Lancashire's Rob Jones. Pictures: SWPix
Well done: Yorkshire's Matthew Waite is congratulated on dismissing Lancashire's Rob Jones. Pictures: SWPix

The Yorkshire first-team coach felt that his players looked fit and well-drilled after they had the better of a two-day friendly against Lancashire at Emerald Headingley.

But he said that Ballance, 30, may miss Saturday’s opener against Durham at the Riverside as he continues to recover from illness.

The left-hander has been training for the past fortnight but has struggled to shake off virus-like symptoms (Ballance has had two negative tests for Covid-19).

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Roses warm-up: Yorkshire's Matthew Fisher appeals for Lancashire's Josh Bohannon's wicket.

Speaking after Lancashire scored 223-5 from 86 overs on day two of the practice fixture in Leeds, after Yorkshire totalled 337-5 from 90 overs on the opening day, Gale said: “Gary has been ill and he’s a doubt for the first game, unfortunately.

“He’s been training for the past couple of weeks but his illness has taken it out of him and he’s still not where we’d want him to be.

“But we’re taking it day-by-day and, if he has a good week’s prep and, by Thursday, says that he’s okay, then who knows? I’m being led by him really; there’s an inter-squad game on Tuesday and Wednesday, so we’ll play it by ear and see how things stand.”

With new signing Dawid Malan set to play his first match for Yorkshire in another two-day friendly against Durham that starts at Headingley tomorrow, having now recovered from a calf problem, the club are set to field a top-three of Adam Lyth, Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Malan at the Riverside.

Racing in: Yorkshire's Matthew Waite appeals against Lancashire.

If Ballance is unfit, Will Fraine or Tom Loten will likely play in his stead.

Gale believes his side will go into the season in excellent shape and was delighted with their first run-out of the summer against the old enemy.

Following an agreement that Yorkshire would bat on day one and Lancashire on day two, Lyth starred with the bat for the hosts, scoring 108 (retired out) with support from Kohler-Cadmore (70) and all-rounder Matthew Waite (43 not out).

Waite was also Yorkshire’s most successful bowler with 2-41 as Lancashire slipped to 107-5 before Danny Lamb (76) and George Balderson (42) added an unbroken 116.

“I think what we’ve seen from Yorkshire in this game is that we look pretty well-drilled and we’re ready,” said Gale.

“That’s what we’ve put our efforts into over the last five weeks in training, making sure that the fitness was good and that we’re ready to play.

“Sometimes in pre-season, in the university games, we’ve been a little bit undercooked at times and shell-shocked, if you like, that cricket is back.

“But this has been very encouraging and I think there were a number of positives to take from the game.”

Gale continued: “I expected it to be intense because we’re only a week now from the start of the season and there’s competition for places, so I expected the lads to make sure that their intensity was as near to first-class cricket as it could be.

“Everyone’s got what they needed out of the game and it’s been really encouraging. All in all, I’m pleased with the preparation that we’ve had.

“It feels like we’re two or three games in, the way that we’ve played, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves. You’re always a bit touch-wood on injuries given that it’s something that you’re not used to, the short preparation time, but we certainly look like we’re ready to play.”

Caution around possible injuries, particularly to fast bowlers, means that Yorkshire are holding back South African paceman Duanne Olivier, who is likely to return for the second Trophy match against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge on Saturday week.

Olivier had to go into quarantine on returning from his native country earlier this month, due to the restrictions around the coronavirus, and Yorkshire do not want to jeopardise his fitness.

“The Durham game might come too soon for Duanne, given that he hasn’t had the build-up that the rest have had,” said Gale.

“They had a pretty strict lockdown over there (in South Africa), he hasn’t had access to a gym and stuff like that, and it would be a high risk to throw him in at the moment.

“He’s desperately keen to play, and he actually sent me some videos of him bowling into a bedsheet in his garden at home to try and show that he’s up to scratch.

“I’m not sure I can put that down as good physical preparation, but it just shows how keen and enthusiastic he is.”

Gale went on: “Because Duanne is so competitive and bowling at 90mph, it puts him at even more risk if he hasn’t had the right preparation.

“I don’t want to rush him in and then have him go down with a side strain in that first game and end up losing him for the rest of the season.

“The schedule is tough enough as it is – the matches are coming thick and fast – and we don’t want to put an end to his season straight away.

“Duanne will tell you that he’s good to go because he wants to play in every game, but he’s an injury waiting to happen without the right preparation.”

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