Yorkshire CCC v Northants, Royal London Cup: Gary Ballance resumes the captaincy

GARY BALLANCE is to captain Yorkshire for the first time in a competitive match since the health issues that forced him to quit the job on a permanent basis in 2018.

In charge: Yorkshire's Gary Ballance. Picture: SWPix

Ballance will today become the club’s sixth captain of the season when he takes charge for the Royal London Cup game against Northants at Scarborough.

Ballance stood down as club captain three years ago after experiencing fatigue-like symptoms which hampered his ability to carry out his duties, citing the “burden”, “pressure” and “expectation” of the role. He returned to the team after a short break to show all his class with the bat under a new captain in Steve Patterson

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But with Patterson taking a mentoring role during the ongoing Royal London Cup, and with Dom Bess on Test duty after leading Yorkshire in their opening two matches in the competition, Yorkshire have temporarily gone back to Ballance.

Patterson, 37, may still play occasionally in the 50-over tournament – and he is in the 15-man squad for today’s fixture. But Yorkshire want to keep faith, as much as possible, with a young side decimated by external call-ups, with pretty much an entire XI unavailable due to The Hundred and/or international commitments.

Yorkshire have fielded an unchanged line-up in those first two games, which brought a five-wicket defeat to Surrey at Scarborough followed by a seven-wicket win against Leicestershire at Grace Road, a line-up that went into the competition boasting just 193 List A appearances between them – 110 of those to Ballance.

The 31-year-old left-hander, who averages just short of 50 in the one-day game, did lead Yorkshire in a two-day friendly at Derby in March, but he has not done so properly, so to say, since 2018, having replaced Andrew Gale in the job the previous year.

Along with Patterson, who leads Yorkshire in the County Championship, and Bess, Yorkshire have also been captained this season by David Willey, their T20 captain, plus Joe Root and Adam Lyth, who have deputised in the T20 matches that Willey has missed.

Bess is part of a 17-man squad for the first two Tests against India, which meets in Loughborough today ahead of the fixtures at Trent Bridge (August 4-8) and at Lord’s (August 12-16).

The Test squad is larger than usual in case of Covid emergency and includes Bess’s Yorkshire colleagues Jonny Bairstow and Test captain Root.

The first two Tests, and the build-up to them, clash with the remainder of the Royal London Cup group stage and the quarter-final eliminators, with today’s fixture the third of eight group matches.

Yorkshire play Somerset at Taunton on Sunday before games at York’s Clifton Park against Warwickshire on Tuesday and against Nottinghamshire on Friday week, which are followed by trips to play Derbyshire at Chesterfield (August 8) and Glamorgan at Cardiff (August 12).

The quarter-final eliminators, which are contested by the second and third-placed sides in each of the two groups, take place on August 14 and are followed, three days later, by the semi-finals, into which the two group winners automatically gain passage.

The final is two days later on Thursday, August 19, at Trent Bridge – the showpiece having been taken away from Lord’s in a further sign of the competition’s declining significance in the eyes of the powers-that-be.

For Yorkshire, however, and their interim coach, Rich Pyrah, who is standing in for head coach Gale while he is working with The Hundred franchise Northern Superchargers, it is certainly significant as his side seeks to follow-up their excellent victory at Grace Road.

Yorkshire successfully chased the third-highest target in their one-day history (328) in a fitting way to mark their 1,000th List A match, 19-year-old wicketkeeper Harry Duke top-scoring with 125 and 20-year-old all-rounder George Hill striking an unbeaten 90.

“There’s been a lot spoken about young players in this comp, but wins like that at Leicester prove how valuable it is,” said Pyrah. “The experience and confidence they get is massive.”

Yorkshire (from): Ballance (captain), Coad, Duke, Fraine, Hill, Luxton, Olivier, Patterson, Pillans, Revis, Shutt, Sullivan H, Sullivan J, Tattersall, Waite.