Yorkshire v Lancashire – Natwest T20 Blast at 18:30 live on Sky Sport 2
Domestic matches don’t get any bigger than this – Yorkshire v Lancashire on a Friday night in front of the Sky Sports cameras. There will be a partisan home crowd cheering on Yorkshire, who yet again have struggled in the games shortest version this year. P7 W1 L4 with 2 NR due to inclement weather is another poor return for one of county cricket’s big boys. Across the Pennines things have been rosier for visitors and T20 Blast trophy holders, Lancashire, who are sitting fifth in the North Group having P8 W3 L4 and 1NR. Yorkshire are realistically out, but this is a game they will be desperate to win.
Say it quietly but the weather is looking dry for Friday night’s White Rose v Red Rose derby. Temperatures will struggle to top 14c but frankly who cares as long as the rain relents.
Headingley is a ground where overhead conditions dictate what happens on the field more than most other grounds in world cricket. When the sun shines this tends to be a cracking batting strip, but when cloud rolls in coupled with high humidity, it becomes a seam and swing bowlers haven. Recently it has been the former and has been the scene of some high scores.
Here are recent scores for sides batting first in T20 Blast matches at Headingley –
2016 – 153, 174 – Average 163
2015 – 145, 191, 191, 209, 185, 128 – Average 174
Here’s a list of Yorkshire’s completed scores when batting first since the start of the 2015 edition of the T20 Blast –
134, 173, 153, 146, 132, 209, 185 – Average 161
And here are Lancashire’s attempts when batting first in the same time period –
149, 184, 204, 149, 131, 166, 145, 137, 191, 231, 163, 201, 127 – Average 167
For all the semi-criticism I’ve thrown at Yorkshire in this column for struggling to compete in T20 cricket, the simple fact is they are handicapped more than any other county due to the number of players unavailable for the majority of the Blast courtesy of England duty. Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid, David Willey and Liam Plunkett means five of England’s last ODI starting XI were Yorkshire born or Yorkshire adopted – you can replace one or two, but five? Apart from Root’s 92*in the reverse fixture, the best score the rest of the batsmen have mustered up all tournament has been 48. Captain Alex Lees and deputy Jake Leaning average 27 apiece, but ex-England batsman Gary Ballance and Adam Lyth are not suited to this format. Ballance has a best of 24 in 4 knocks whilst Lyth has managed 45 runs in 3 innings. Overseas star Kane Williamson has a top score of 40 in his 6 innings in all cricket for Yorkshire this term and needs to deliver more. Bresnan (below) and Plunkett have shared 11 of the 24 wickets the bowlers have taken, with off-spinner Azeem Rafiq the best of the rest with a paltry 3 wickets in 2 matches he’s played.
Jos Buttler is the only England absentee for Lancashire, who should arrive at Headingley confident of repeating their victory from earlier in the season over their North-West rivals. Captain Steven Croft has played the finishing role expertly with 3 not outs in his 6 innings this season, whilst South African Alviro Peterson has starred with the bat with 155 runs to date. He’s in great form coming in on the back of a 191 in the County Championship and a 68* in his last T20. Liam Livingstone’s 55 off 30 balls in the reverse fixture showed his great promise whilst Karl Brown made 54 of his 140 runs in that same match. Left-arm spinner Steven Parry took 5-13 in the win over Worcestershire whilst off-spin from Arron Lilley has 6 wickets at 27 apiece. New Zealand quick Neil Wagner leads the seamers alongside Edwards (below)
You don’t get many prouder Yorkshiremen than Tim Bresnan and he will be frustrated at his counties inability to master the T20 form. The 31 year-old’s England days might be behind him, but he’s been a standout performer for his county in this year’s Blast with 9 wickets in the 5 innings he’s bowled in. He went for 0-51 in last year’s final ball Headingley defeat to Lancashire and will be keen to make amends here.
George Edwards is one of those rare bowlers in the domestic game that can deliver the ball around the 90mph mark. The Lancashire quick is in his third season now and is having a blinding Blast with 11 wickets in the 6 innings he has bowled in. Edwards took 3-33 in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford earlier this month and has looked in great rhythm this season.
If Yorkshire bat first I recommend taking any UNDER RUNS around the 163-166 mark.
If Lancashire bat first I recommend taking any OVER RUNS around the 163-166 mark.
Top Batsman Market
Kane Williamson is not in the greatest form but the best players love big occasions such as this. With no England stars on show for Yorkshire and a mis-firing batting unit, back the Kiwi at 4.0 to top score.
Sorry to suggest another favourite, but Alviro Peterson is a man in great form and should be backed at 4.0 to top score for Lancashire here.
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