LIAM PLUNKETT has been named in Yorkshire’s squad for their pre-season tour to South Africa next month.
The England pace bowler, who has been ruled out of the New Zealand one-day series with a hamstring injury, will step up his recovery at the club’s Potchefstroom base.
Plunkett’s county team-mate David Willey will join the tour on March 14 following the one-day series, which finishes on March 10.
But Adil Rashid will not travel, with Yorkshire taking the view that as the leg-spinner has only a white-ball contract - having chosen to give up first-class cricket for the time being - that there is little point in him practising fully two months before their first one-day fixture of the season.
Other high-profile absentees are Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, who are unavailable due to the New Zealand Test series that starts on March 22.
Yorkshire’s two-week tour begins on March 7 and they will play two two-day matches and two two-day games.
There’s more competition for places at the club than I’ve ever known. There’s a few older heads in there that want to put a few wrongs right from last year and they’ve come back as hungry as ever.Yorkshire first-team coach, Andrew Gale
Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire first team coach, commented: “What we wanted to do was to create team spirit throughout the winter. I thought we lost a bit of that last year due to lack of form and results, so we’ve worked very hard on that and this provides us with an opportunity to get everyone together before the start of the season.
“It will be great to have the England lads with us, but also some of the younger lads who haven’t been on tour with us before. The lads are ready to get outside now. We came back earlier than we usually do from a cricketing point of view.
“We felt we had some areas to work on and now we’re getting to a place where we need some competitive cricket. There’s only so many skills you can do inside so we’re ready to get outdoors and practice those skills under some pressure.
“I’ve been to Potch a few times with my own academy Pro Coach, and I went with the Yorkshire Academy a few years back.
“For starters, it’s a great facility; the nets are just around the corner, so that’ll cut a few hours a day travelling out of the schedule. There’s also a fantastic gym on site too.
“You’re sort of living on top of one another too, which again will help build that team spirit and stand us in good stead for the season.”
Gale is predicting a healthy clamour for first team places.
“There’s more competition for places at the club than I’ve ever known,” he said. “There’s a few older heads in there that want to put a few wrongs right from last year and they’ve come back as hungry as ever.
“There’s also an opportunity there for some of the younger lads, and it’ll be whoever scores the most runs and whoever is in the best form that gets picked.
“Effectively, it’s the first opportunity for some of these guys to stake a claim.”
Yorkshire squad: Ballance (captain), Bresnan, Brook, Brooks, Carver, Coad, Hodd, Kohler-Cadmore, Leaning, Lees, Lyth, Patterson, Plunkett, Rafiq, Shaw, Tattersall, Wainman, Waite, Warner, Willey.