High-flying Durham will provide Yorkshire CCC with an acid test, says coach Ottis Gibson
Going into the 10th game out of 14 against Durham at Scarborough on Tuesday, Yorkshire sit sixth in Division Two, their record showing one victory, two defeats and six draws, with only winless Gloucestershire and Derbyshire below them in the table.
It is certainly not a record to set the world on fire, and yet one of those defeats was by the narrowest of margins, the one-wicket reverse against Durham at Chester-le-Street in May, and the other a somewhat freakish occurrence when Leicestershire chased 389 in the first match of the season at Headingley.
With inclement weather having twice thwarted efforts to beat second-placed Sussex – at Hove in April and at Headingley last week – and also against Worcestershire at New Road, it is difficult to gauge exactly where Yorkshire are as a four-day team.
To that effect, and given the hope (no doubt forlorn) of a rain-free encounter at the seaside this week, Ottis Gibson, the Yorkshire head coach, believes that Durham will provide the necessary yardstick, his former club sitting 54 points clear at the top after five wins, four draws and one defeat.
“If we can get four good days (of weather), it will give us a good marker of where we are,” said Gibson, who played for Durham in 2006 and 2007.
“Durham have proven themselves to be the best team in the division; they are playing really well and they are very positive.
“We had a nail-biter up there, at Chester-le-Street, so we know over four days that we can push them.
"If we play the way that we’ve been playing the last couple of games, and we get some good weather, then we believe that we can push them all the way and hopefully get a win.”
Yorkshire will come up against a familiar face in Alex Lees, the Durham opener and the only man to have scored 1,000 runs in Division Two this season.
Lees, a Yorkshire player from 2010 to 2018, has scored 1,087 in 10 games at an average of 67.93, with four hundreds in his last five Championship innings.
Yorkshire’s opening batsmen, Adam Lyth and Fin Bean, are their own leading run-scorers, with 646 and 614 respectively.
Durham also possess the top two wicket-takers in Division Two – Ben Raine (44) and Matthew Potts (42), with Ben Coad leading the way for Yorkshire with 26 from his six appearances.
Gibson was pleased with last week’s display against Sussex, the match succumbing to a final day washout.
Sussex were 236-7 in their second innings when hands were shaken – effectively 88-7 – and although Yorkshire might potentially have faced a tricky run-chase, they clearly enjoyed the better of the contest.
“I was really proud of the way that we played,” said Gibson. “We did everything we possibly could to try and win; I thought my boys were excellent in trying to push the game and trying to get a result.”
Yorkshire squad: Bean, Coad, Fisher, Hill, Lyth, Luxton, Moriarty, Revis, Rickleton, Steketee, Tattersall (captain), Thompson, Wharton.