Yorkshire v Lancashire: Ottis Gibson braced for Roses battle at Headingley

OTTIS GIBSON is relishing his first taste of Roses cricket as Yorkshire look to maintain their unbeaten start to the Championship season.

The county’s head coach is well aware of the famous rivalry that dates back deep into the 19th century.

Now he is about to sample it for the first time in county cricket’s equivalent of England versus Australia, or India versus Pakistan.

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“I’m looking forward to it,” said Gibson, whose side have drawn three and won one of their opening four games in an encouraging start to the four-day campaign.

Yorkshire director of cricket Darren Gough looks on alongside Joe Root. Picture: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

“It will be my first experience of the Roses, obviously, and if we have a pitch similar to the one that we had at Headingley the other week (against Kent), then I think it should make for a good contest between two good teams.

“Everybody is really looking forward to the Roses match, not just myself.

“There has been a little bit of a buzz around the dressing room and people have been talking about it, and hopefully there will be a really good atmosphere in the ground.”

Yorkshire are fourth in Division One, eight points and one place behind Lancashire, who have opened up with two wins and two draws.

Yorkshire head coach Ottis Gibson. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

The White Rose are unbeaten in the last seven first-class Roses fixtures at Headingley, with Lancashire last winning at the ground in 2011.

“We’ve been playing really good cricket this year, and we hope to do so again,” added Gibson.

“Our batting line-up at the moment is world-class – we’ve got some world-class players in there, and the guys have bowled really well, too.

“We’re trying to play positive cricket, but we want to win as well. We enjoy playing in front of our fans at Headingley, and maybe the Roses game will be the game that we get across the line.”

Yorkshire have named Haris Rauf in a 12-man squad after the fast bowler missed last week’s trip to Essex with a side injury.

Fellow pace bowlers Matty Fisher (back) and Ben Coad (hamstring) remain sidelined.

Yorkshire’s bowling resources have been heavily stretched in the season’s early weeks, with injuries biting deep and no let-up in a demanding schedule, with this the fifth of six back-to-back Championship games for the county in as many weeks.

Gibson is proud of those who have risen to the challenge in response, saying: “The bowlers, if not getting wickets, are bowling quite economically, and I’m very proud of their efforts.

“If you look at the attack we had out (against Essex), we were still able to bowl 96 overs on the first day for 234 runs.

Jordan Thompson is improving with every match; Steve Patterson knows what he’s doing – he controls the scoring rate for us nicely; Dom Bess is bowling well; Matthew Revis is a young batsman who we’re trying to get more out of in terms of his bowling, and he’s bowled well for us; George Hill bowled well (at Essex), and so on.

“We’ve bowled a hell of a lot of overs so far as well.”

This game throws up some intriguing head-to-heads: Joe Root versus James Anderson, for example, and Dom Bess versus his close friend Matt Parkinson.

There are always subplots that make up the story.

Another strand to the narrative is the form of Harry Brook, the 23-year-old Yorkshire batsman who is in the midst of an astonishing run.

Brook heads into the match as the First Division’s leading run-scorer with 635 at an average of 158.75 and within sight of emulating and eclipsing an old Yorkshire record.

The situation is this... Brook has begun the season with six successive scores of 50-plus in first-class cricket – 101, 56 not out, 84, 77 not out, 194 and 123.

Should he make it seven, he would equal the Yorkshire record held jointly by Geoffrey Boycott (in 1982), Darren Lehmann (2002) and Anthony McGrath (2010), with McGrath’s run extending to 10 scores of 50-plus in the space of 11 innings.

The record for the most number of 50-plus scores in first-class cricket in succession is 10, achieved by the Lancashire and England batsman Ernest Tyldesley in 1926, by the Australian maestro Don Bradman in 1947-48, and by the Sri Lankan Romesh Kaluwitharana in 1994-95.

Another within sight of the Yorkshire record is Dawid Malan, who has achieved five successive scores of 50-plus after starting the season with an innings of 39.

Brook and Malan have been excellent so far (they should rightly be No 3 and No 5 in the Test team next month, flanking Root at No 4), with their last two partnerships worth 269 against Kent and 211 against Essex.

“Brook and Malan have been brilliant,” said Gibson.

“They have made it look very easy at times, and long may it continue.”

This will be the 264th first-class game between the Roses rivals, with Yorkshire leading the head-to-head by 79 wins to 53, with 131 draws.

The return match at Old Trafford this season begins on September 5.

Yorkshire (from): Bess, Brook, Duke, Hill, Loten, Lyth, Malan, Patterson (captain), Rauf, Revis, Root, Thompson.

Lancashire (from): Anderson, Bailey, Balderson, Bohannon, Croft, Jennings, Lamb, Mahmood, Parkinson, Salt, Vilas (captain), Wells, Wood.