Shaw debut as injury-struck Yorkshire aim to stay in mix

MARTYN MOXON believes that if Yorkshire can maintain their title challenge in the next two matches they will be well-placed to push for a hat-trick of Championships going into the second half of the season.

Josh Shaw will make his County Championship debut for Yorkshire against Durham.

Yorkshire face Durham today at Chester-le-Street with their bowling department down to the bare bones.

Pace bowlers Ryan Sidebottom, Jack Brooks and Matthew Fisher are injured, while fellow pace men Liam Plunkett and David Willey are with England for the one-day series against Sri Lanka, along with leg-spinner Adil Rashid.

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The situation is expected to be similar for Yorkshire’s subsequent Championship match against Middlesex at Scarborough from July 3, which completes the opening half of the club’s four-day programme.

But if Yorkshire can stay in the mix while they face this personnel crisis, director of cricket Moxon feels they will be in good shape going into the business end of the summer.

“The situation is not ideal, but, if after the next two games we are still at the top and in the shake-up, if you like, then it’s a good position as we’ll have our more senior players coming back,” he said.

“They’ll be fit, fresh, and they’ll be like new signings really.

“The good thing is that we’re in the mix and we know that we’ve got players to come back from injury going into the latter part of the season.

“We also know that we can probably still play a little bit better than we have already, so we feel that there’s more to come and we’re in a decent place.”

Steve Patterson and Tim Bresnan will lead the pace attack at Chester-le-Street, where 20-year-old Josh Shaw will make his Yorkshire Championship debut after being recalled from a season-long loan at Gloucestershire. Will Rhodes and Ben Coad are also in the squad.

“We do have options and a number of good players, and it’s not a case of us just trying to hang on for the next two matches,” stressed Moxon.

“As ever, we’ll try and win both games first and foremost, and, if we can’t do that, then we want to make sure that we don’t get beaten.

“It’s a huge match, and never an easy test to go to the Riverside, but it’s an opportunity to see what some of our other lads can do.

“It’s what we try and do, promote from within, and that policy has served us well of late.”

Moxon said it is too early to speculate who might be available for the match against Middlesex. However, Yorkshire expect to have more or less a clean bill of health for their subsequent Championship game against Surrey at the Oval from July 11.

Sidebottom (ankle) and Brooks (quad) should by then have recovered, although perhaps not Fisher (hamstring). Yorkshire say there is an outside chance that Brooks might be fit to face Middlesex.

The Division One table is impossibly tight, with Lancashire level on points with Yorkshire and top by virtue of having won one more game.

Durham are third, just one point behind the Roses rivals, and just one point ahead of fourth-placed Middlesex.

Only eight points separate Lancashire from fifth-placed Somerset, with the congestion reflecting the high number of draws.

With one-day cricket having dominated of late, Yorkshire last played a Championship game on June 1 when they beat Lancashire by 175 runs.

“It was a good win and an important win,” said Moxon.

“It was much-needed in the respect that if we hadn’t won, then Lancashire would have had a bit of a lead on us.

“So it was very important to peg them back, and it’s all very, very close in terms of points. Clearly, every game is going to be important from now on, and let’s just hope that we can build on that win over Lancashire.”

Durham have also had injury problems, with eight seam bowlers out at one time or another this season.

The hosts hope to have Graham Onions and James Weighell available this week, but Chris Rushworth, Brydon Carse and Paul Coughlin have had foot injuries.

Durham coach Jon Lewis said: “Yorkshire are also a bit short, but we are used to having good, fiercely-contested games against them, and whoever plays it will be no different.

“Paul Collingwood still refers to our match at Scarborough three years ago as the next best thing to Test cricket he has experienced.”

Yorkshire (from): Lyth, Lees, Williamson, Ballance, Gale (capt), Leaning, Bresnan, Rhodes, Hodd, Patterson, Shaw, Carver, Coad.