NO ROSES match is without passion and intensity, but the one that starts at Old Trafford tomorrow will have an unusual sprinkling of quality to boot.
“It will be like a Test match,” opined Yorkshire’s director of cricket Martyn Moxon as he looked ahead to a contest that will see England Test captain Joe Root and wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow line-up for Yorkshire alongside New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.
England’s Jos Buttler and James Anderson will also be making a rare appearance for Lancashire before the five-Test series against India that starts on August 1.
Were it not for the fact that Adil Rashid has quit red-ball cricket for Yorkshire and that Liam Plunkett and David Willey lack overs under their belt after weeks of white-ball action, Yorkshire could have fielded another three England internationals.
As it is the cast list is of a strength that recalls great Roses matches of yesteryear when the likes of Freddie Trueman and Brian Statham would be in opposition before joining forces in an England shirt.
“It will be a high-quality match, like a Test match,” said Moxon.
“Obviously with the international schedule as it is it’s impossible to have so many internationals on view on a regular basis.
“But hopefully it will be a fantastic advert for county cricket, and Roses matches are always competitive.”
Considering the amount of talent on show, which indeed gives the game an international flavour, it seems slightly incongruous that this is a meeting between the sixth- and seventh-placed teams in Division One.
But Lancashire are only three points above a relegation zone that Yorkshire occupy, albeit with a match in hand on their fiercest rivals. Yorkshire are only 14 points above bottom club Worcestershire as they start what is now the second half of their 14-match Championship programme.
Hopefully it will be a fantastic advert for county cricket, and Roses matches are always competitive.Martyn Moxon
“It’s a particularly important Roses game given the positions we are in the table,” said Moxon. “It adds extra spice, if you like.
“We want to take advantage of having our England players available and get back to playing some really good, solid Championship cricket, but Lancashire will have a strong team as well so it’s going to be no walkover, that’s for sure.
“On paper we’ve got a very strong team and hopefully we can make the most of that. By the same token when we had seven players missing against Hampshire recently and against a very good team in Surrey we performed well against Hampshire and also for the first two days against Surrey, so we’re capable, whoever’s playing, of playing some good Championship cricket.”
As ever Moxon’s desire is for greater consistency, particularly from the batting department.
In their last Championship game, against Surrey at Scarborough Yorkshire took a 75-run first-innings lead only to be blown away for 152 in their second innings, the visitors easing to a seven-wicket win.
“The start of our second innings cost us that game,” said Moxon.
“They’re the periods of play that we’ve got to avoid and, although we know that, ultimately we’ve got to make sure that we do avoid them.
“We know what we’re capable of, but what we aren’t doing is producing it consistently, which is an ongoing frustration.
“Hopefully it will be different at Old Trafford.”
Considering the stakes, were Yorkshire perhaps tempted to throw in Plunkett and Willey, who helped England to a one-day series win over India?
“Having spoken to Liam and Dave it’s basically a conditioning thing,” said Moxon.
“It’s a big difference playing in 50-over and T20, going from bowling 10 overs and four overs to then bowling three spells (on a Championship day).
“I think before they play Championship cricket the thinking is to build up their workloads prior to considering them for four-day cricket.
“But they’re available to us now for the rest of the season, while Adil Rashid is with us for the rest of the T20 tournament.”
With Rashid unavailable for Championship cricket, Yorkshire have drafted in Warwickshire leg-spinner Josh Poysden on loan for this game.
Poysden, 26, is in the final year of his contract at Edgbaston.
“We’ve got Josh on loan for this game, but that’s as far as it goes at the moment,” said Moxon.
“It’s a temporary thing, a one-off; what happens after that we’ll wait and see.
“Josh is involved in Warwickshire’s T20 squad and he will go back and rejoin them after the match.
“But it’s an area that we are looking at, our spin bowling in County Championship cricket, and one we need to find a solution to.”
Poysden captured a career-best 5-29 against Glamorgan on his last Championship appearance at Edgbaston last month. But he has found regular first-team cricket difficult to come by.
“He’s not getting much opportunity at Warwickshire because of Jeetan Patel, and we know what a quality performer he is,” said Moxon.
“So this move basically works for both parties.
“It’s good for Josh because he’s getting some red-ball cricket, and it’s good for us at the moment because we’ve got a bit of a gap that needs filling.
“The pitch will probably need a full-time spinner, as well as the back-up, and we’re confident that he can do a good job.”