JASON GILLESPIE watched Yorkshire draw their final warm-up before the new County Championship season and declared: “The boys are ready.”
The Yorkshire first-team coach said his side are fully prepared going into Sunday’s game against Worcestershire at New Road, where they will begin the defence of their Championship crown.
Yorkshire followed their nine-wicket win against the MCC in Abu Dhabi with a tough workout against Leeds-Bradford MCCU at Headingley, who produced an admirably battling performance.
Yorkshire were not at their blue riband best as they adjust to life without the six players currently on tour with England in the West Indies, but Gillespie believes they are in “fantastic shape” with the serious stuff about to start.
After Leeds-Bradford ended the match on 48-4 in their second innings, with Yorkshire batting on until mid-afternoon to give everyone a hit as they forged a lead of 421, Gillespie said: “The boys are ready. Overall, I’m very comfortable with what I’ve seen and the lads, I can promise you, are raring to go.
“From the start of Abu Dhabi to now, everyone’s had some time in the middle, everyone’s got miles in their legs and everyone’s spent some time in the dirt out in the field. I think we’re in fantastic shape.”
Gillespie said the game against the students had not changed his mind about the composition of the side for the Championship opener.
Will Rhodes will open the batting with Alex Lees, who will captain in the absence of the suspended Andrew Gale, while left-arm spinner Karl Carver seems likely to make an XI that will include new overseas signing Cheteshwar Pujara.
“I’ll be honest, I’m pretty clear about the side for Worcester and I have been for a little while now,” said Gillespie. “This game didn’t really change that. We’ll take a 13-man squad down there and we’ve got a number of options.
“The match against the students was great preparation.”
On another glorious day in Leeds, Yorkshire began day three on 126-6 in their second innings, a lead of 253.
Rich Pyrah and Tim Bresnan batted for 75 minutes as they took their seventh-wicket stand to 77, which ended when Pyrah was caught at long-off for a fine 40 to go with his first innings 84.
Bresnan fell for 38 and Jack Brooks (38 not out) and Steve Patterson (30) combined in a last-wicket stand of 50, Joe Ellis-Grewal taking 4-118.
Steve Bullen (25) helped Leeds-Bradford stave off the threat of defeat after Yorkshire declared with a possible three hours remaining. The teams shook hands at 5pm with an hour to go.