YORKSHIRE will stage a seam bowling shoot-out in an effort to kick-start their County Championship season.
The club will run the rule over their promising pace bowlers in a three-day game against Leeds-Bradford MCCU, starting today.
The fixture at Headingley Carnegie, which is designated as first-class, is being used by Yorkshire as a trial run for next Thursday’s County Championship match at home to Essex.
Specifically, it will help them better assess their pace bowling options after a below-par showing last week against Kent at Headingley.
Yorkshire – widely tipped to bounce straight back after Championship relegation – were unconvincing against Robert Key’s men.
They were forced to follow-on after allowing Kent to score 537-9 declared in their solitary innings – Kent’s highest total in the Broad Acres.
In a difficult game for Yorkshire’s pace attack, Iain Wardlaw returned 0-106 from 24 overs and Rich Pyrah 0-81 from 19 overs, with the latter also breaking his left hand – an injury set to keep him out for around six weeks.
Although Yorkshire emerged with a hard-fought draw, the match against the Leeds-Bradford students will give the likes of Steve Patterson and Oliver Hannon-Dalby the chance to press their claims for the Essex fixture, as well as provide Wardlaw with another opportunity to show what he can do.
“This game will be a good chance for some of our young pace bowlers,” said Yorkshire first team coach Jason Gillespie, who has opted to rest Ryan Sidebottom and Ajmal Shahzad, along with batsman/wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow and leg-spinner Adil Rashid.
“It was really difficult to pick the side for the first Championship game, and there were a few places that could have gone either way.
“Unfortunately, I can only put 11 on the park, and having the conversations with those players who missed out was tough but necessary.
“With Richie injuring himself, it gives someone else an opportunity and this match is going to be a terrific workout.”
Although delighted with the way his squad are progressing, Gillespie admitted his team lacked discipline at times against Kent.
The former Australia fast bowler was candid in his comments, admitting Yorkshire need to show more ruthlessness with the ball.
In particular, Gillespie was frustrated with the way Kent were permitted to climb significantly from 374-8 thanks to a ninth-wicket partnership of 153 between Matt Coles and Mark Davies.
He is looking for a positive response against the students.
“We can certainly improve our disciplines with the ball,” he added. “I felt we bowled well for a good portion of the game against Kent and then let the opposition get away.
“We need to be more ruthless in that regard. But, overall, I’m very pleased with the way the squad are shaping up.”
Wardlaw, Patterson and Hannon-Dalby will hope to make a favourable impression against the students, along with off-spinner Azeem Rafiq, who is also included.
However, Leeds-Bradford are no mugs – as emphasised by the fact they almost beat Surrey at the Oval earlier this month.
Left to chase 315, the students put up a magnificent fight, scoring 312 to go down only by two runs.
Dan Hodgson, who is contracted to Yorkshire, top-scored with a splendid innings of 64 from 122 balls with seven fours and a six.
There is bound to be heightened focus on university teams following Durham MCCU’s disastrous display against Durham last week.
The students were bowled out for 18 in their second innings – the lowest first-class total since 1983.
But their coach, the former Lancashire and England batsman Graeme Fowler, has launched a vigorous defence of the universities’ rights to hold first-class status.
He believes they serve as an important breeding ground.
“While we had a nightmare against Durham, I hope people remember the good we do for the game,” said Fowler, whose team lost by 373 runs.
“You know Michael Schumacher has the odd car crash; he’s still a pretty good driver.
“We have played some soft cricket and the guys have been left under no illusions that they have not performed well enough; they are mortified by their performance.
“I just hope that, because of one nightmare performance, people don’t forget all the good things we have done for England cricket.”
Today’s match starts at 11.00am and admission is free.
Yorkshire: Root, Sayers, McGrath, Gale (capt), Lyth, Ballance, Rafiq, Brophy, Patterson, Wardlaw, Hannon-Dalby.
Leeds-Bradford UCCE squad: Moore (capt), Bush, Hardman, Higginbottom, Hodgson, Leach, MacQueen, Reece, Slater, Thomas, Vanderspar, Webb.
Australia reached their target of 192 with three wickets remaining as darkness engulfed Kensington Oval on a dramatic final day of the first Test in Barbados. West Indies had posted 449 but fell for 148 in their second innings after Australia had reached 406-9dec.