It may be a practice match - but it is still Yorkshire versus Lancashire

IT WILL be cricket, Jim, but not as we know it as Yorkshire and Lancashire lock horns at Headingley today.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 13/07/2020 - Sport - Cricket - Yorkshire County Cricket Club Training - Emerald Headingley Cricket Ground, Leeds, England - Yorkshire's Steve Patterson in training after the long lay off due to the Coronavirus Covid 19 pandemic.

The Roses rivals are playing a two-day friendly behind closed doors as they prepare for the start of the season on August 1.

The first match to be staged at Headingley since last summer will be a flexible affair, with batsmen likely to be able to bat more than once if required.

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“It’s basically a practice game,” said Yorkshire’s director of cricket Martyn Moxon. “We’re going to bat on the first day and they’re going to bat on the second day; it’s not going to be a proper game as such.

“I think we’re only going to bat seven of our players, so if somebody’s out and we lose five/six wickets, then people will go back in, that sort of thing. It’s going to be very much geared around what both teams want, and there’ll be lots of flexibility.

“It’s just nice to be back on the park because the lads have had enough nets now. They want to get playing some matches and this is an ideal opportunity, weather permitting, along with our two-day friendly against Durham at Headingley from Monday, to hopefully get four days out of the next five in matchday situations.

“This won’t be like a full-on Roses match, as it were, but people will still want to perform well and get into form quickly. There will be an intensity to it, absolutely, and it’s a chance for the lads to hit the ground running.”

Yorkshire will be without Gary Ballance, who has been feeling under the weather but has tested negative for coronavirus.

Various Covid protocols are in place for the players.

“The lads have to undergo regular temperature checks and do a questionnaire on an app,” said Moxon.

“They’re not Covid tested every day; I suppose as much as anything, it’s not cost-effective for every player in the country to be doing that, whereas there’s a comparatively small number of people involved in the internationals where that testing goes on.

“The fact that county players are temperature-checked and symptom-checked every day is adequate at the moment. The staff are also temperature checked.”

Players’ changing arrangements at Headingley are also different. “We’re using the dressing rooms and Lancashire are up on the third floor of the pavilion,” said Moxon, “so we’ve had to adapt rooms for them to get changed in.

“They’ve got access to the balcony so they can sit outside and watch. They’re going to access the ground down a metal staircase, so we’ve had to put artificial grass on that metal staircase for them to come down the stairs with their spikes on, and then they enter the pitch through block I of the Western Terrace.

“It’s all these kinds of things that have had to be done.”

Yorkshire team: Brook, Coad, Fisher, Fraine, Kohler-Cadmore, Loten, Lyth, Patterson (captain), Shutt, Tattersall, Waite.