YORKSHIRE start their season today with a three-day friendly against the Leeds-Bradford students that will serve as a County Championship dress rehearsal.
The club have named their strongest possible side for the match at Headingley with one eye on their Championship opener against Somerset at Taunton on Sunday week.
England star Gary Ballance will lead Yorkshire in the absence of club captain Andrew Gale, who is still recovering from a hip injury but expects to be fit for the Somerset match.
England’s Jonny Bairstow will keep wicket, while the four-strong pace attack that did the club proud last season is set to feature in the form of Ryan Sidebottom, Steve Patterson, Jack Brooks and Liam Plunkett.
England’s Tim Bresnan and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson are unavailable due to their involvement in the Twenty20 World Cup, while Joe Root is still recovering from a broken thumb.
Williamson is set to feature in the match at Taunton, although Bresnan’s availability has yet to be announced.
Root will definitely miss that game but hopes to return to action before the end of the month.
Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, believes this week’s contest will provide the perfect Championship warm-up.
“It’s very important from our point of view and we’ll be treating it as a Championship dress rehearsal,” he said. “We’ve got this game and a three-day friendly at Northampton next week, which will probably be a 12-a-side affair, and then we’re straight into the demands of the Championship campaign. Matches against the students are really good practice, and they’re first-class games with plenty at stake.”
Yorkshire have just returned from a two-week pre-season tour to Sri Lanka where they won three of four Twenty20 games and drew a two-day match against local opposition.
There were plenty of good individual performances, not least from young batsman Jack Leaning and young pace bowler Ben Coad, both of whom are in this week’s 12.
“With Galey out and Kane Williamson not here at the moment, there’s a batting slot available and Jack’s the one who’s grasped that,” said Moxon. “He spent some time in Sydney over the winter, working with Phil Jaques, and he did really well on the pre-season tour.
“Ben is another who’s shown lots of promise. He’s very accurate, hits the seam consistently and is a player to watch.”
Moxon was delighted with the players on tour, where the temperature topped 40 degrees. Conditions will be somewhat different in LS6, but he believes the experience will serve them well.
“Because it was so hot in Sri Lanka, concentration levels needed to be really high and that can only benefit us back in England,” he said. “If the lads can concentrate in those conditions, hopefully over here it will be easier.”
Yorkshire squad: Lyth, Lees, Leaning, Ballance (captain), Bairstow, Hodgson, Rashid, Plunkett, Sidebottom, Patterson, Brooks, Coad.