Plunkett backing Yorkshire to emulate Durham

Jonny Bairstow could return for Yorkshire's Championship clash at Durham.
Jonny Bairstow could return for Yorkshire's Championship clash at Durham.
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LIAM PLUNKETT is adamant that Yorkshire can emulate the success of his former club Durham, who have won three County Championships in the space of six years.

Plunkett believes the groundwork is in place for Yorkshire to embark on a similarly good run.

Plunkett, who spent 12 years at Durham before joining Yorkshire in 2012, is better placed than most to draw a comparison.

Ahead of tomorrow’s meeting between the clubs at Chester-le-Street, he said there was no reason why Yorkshire could not follow his former club’s example.

Asked whether Yorkshire have the ability to win a hat-trick of titles themselves, Plunkett said: “Yes, absolutely.

“We were so close last year, when Durham won it, and we’ve got a great team – one of the best I’ve played in. This Yorkshire team has got chances to win any trophy, in my view.

“We’ve got all bases covered and can definitely emulate what Durham have done.”

Plunkett, who made his debut for Durham in 2003, won the Championship with them in 2008 and 2009.

He played a key role in the latter success particularly, scoring 400 runs and taking 49 wickets, and after a testing spell has reinvigorated his career at Yorkshire.

Plunkett took 36 wickets at 28.33 in his first season at Headingley and has looked blisteringly quick so far this summer.

At 29, he feels he is bowling better than ever.

“To be honest, I feel better than I’ve ever been,” he said.

“I’m probably bowling quicker than I’ve ever bowled and I’m very clear about my role.

“Dizzy (Jason Gillespie, the Yorkshire first team coach) wants me to run in and be aggressive.

“It gives me a lot of confidence and I’m loving every minute of it.”

Plunkett and his team-mates must pick themselves up after a seven-wicket defeat against Middlesex at Lord’s.

Middlesex chased 472 – the third-highest pursuit in Championship history – in a performance that highlighted the unpredictable nature of Division One.

“The loss to Middlesex is a reminder that you can be beaten in this competition if you let your guard down for a session,” said Plunkett, referring to the events on day three when openers Chris Rogers and Sam Robson gave their team a flying start with a stand of 181.

“Hats off to Chris Rogers in particular – he batted very well and it’s not every day someone gets 241 against you.

“But we can’t dwell on it and be moping around going into this next match.

“We’ve taken on board what happened and we’re looking forward to getting back into action.”

Yorkshire will need no extra motivation after what happened in London but there is, of course, the added spice of what took place at Scarborough last summer.

Durham beat Yorkshire by seven wickets in a game that ultimately decided the Championship.

“We want to come out on top this time and we’re very confident,” said Plunkett.

“It’s a new game and we also beat them at Chester-le-Street last year, so we know we can do it.

“Last summer, Joe Root batted really well in the game up there with an unbelievable innings on a pitch that was doing a bit. It set the season up for us and we kicked on from there.”

There is no Root this time, spirited away by England, along with Gary Ballance, for a training camp ahead of Friday’s one-day international against Scotland in Aberdeen.

That means Andrew Gale, who dropped himself at Lord’s to accommodate Root’s return, is back to lead the side in the north-east.

Yorkshire have Tim Bresnan available for the first time this season after he came through last week’s second XI game against Lancashire, while Jonny Bairstow returns after recovering from a broken finger.

Jack Leaning, the 20-year-old batsman, is also in a 13-man squad in place of Rich Pyrah.

Durham, who have pace bowler Mark Wood available after a side strain, are seeking their first win in this year’s tournament after draws against Northamptonshire and Somerset.

They have signed Sri Lanka star Kumar Sangakkara on a short-term contract in a move that offsets the unavailability of England’s Ben Stokes, who is still recovering from a broken wrist.

Gillespie is mindful of the threat posed by a Durham team who pulled away from Yorkshire last year with five successive wins in the season’s closing weeks.

He is under no illusion as to the size of the task. “They are a very strong side,” said Gillespie.

“They’ve only played two games, so it’s difficult to tell what their form is like, but they’ve recruited Kumar Sangakkara and, as we all know, he’s a Sri Lankan legend and will give them a lift.

“For our guys, it will be fantastic to come up against a player of his quality because you want to test yourself against the best players in the world. We will relish the chance to bowl at him and our lads are looking forward to embracing that challenge.”