Yorkshire and Derbyshire will meet at Headingley on Friday evening for their first match of the T20 Blast season. The game will be the first T20 under lights at Yorkshire’s ground, and head coach Jason Gillespie will be hoping for a bright start to their limited-overs campaign.
The swirling rumours about Gillespie’s future will no doubt persist: Martyn Moxon has been defending his coach from the media over the last few days. However, Moxon insists that the players will not be distracted from the task in hand, saying that they are “actually taking the mickey out of Jason and finding it quite fun.”
Last year, Yorkshire narrowly missed out on a quarter-final spot after a death bowling disaster allowed James Taylor, Samit Patel and James Franklin to take Nottinghamshire to the knockouts by chasing 201. The White Rose county has only made it out of the group stages on three previous occasions: in 2006, 2007, and 2012, when they were beaten by Hampshire in the final.
The only county with a worse domestic T20 record is Derbyshire. They have only made one quarter-final appearance, in 2005. On that occasion, Mal Loye blasted 73 off 32 balls for Lancashire Lightning. Last year, the Derbyshire Falcons propped up the North Division with just one win, against eventual champions Birmingham.
Yorkshire will be without an overseas player for this match, as Glenn Maxwell is still at the IPL, Aaron Finch is still injured, and Cheteshwar Pujara’s stint has finished. Maxwell is expected to be available for the next game. For Derbyshire, Hashim Amla has been named in the squad as cover for Martin Guptill, who was recalled to the New Zealand Test side.
Jonny Bairstow celebrated his return to first-team cricket after his time in the Caribbean as a drinks-carrier for England with two magnificent innings against Hampshire in the LV County Championship. First, he took Yorkshire’s flagging first innings by the scruff of the neck to help them to a commanding first-innings total with an excellent century. In the second innings, he contributed an aggressive half-century to help set up an impossible run chase for the visiting Hampshire.
Chesney Hughes has a reputation as a hard-hitting batsman, and like Bairstow begins the Blast season on the back of a Championship hundred. Hughes took 249 balls to reach his century, unlike Bairstow who only needed 104. In the 2014 fixture, Hughes also bowled two economical overs of spin to cover their missing bowlers: he could yet provide a useful option for Durston if the pitch is slow.
Yorkshire are without Joe Root, Gary Ballance and Adam Lyth due to England duty, after the Whitby-born opener was called up to make his Test debut next week. They are also missing Ryan Sidebottom through injury, but Liam Plunkett returns to the squad after being reprimanded for failing to attend a training session. Matthew Fisher is named in the squad, despite being in the middle of his exams. One advantage of the Twenty20 format is that it does not necessitate a long break in his revision.
Derbyshire were expecting to have World Cup star Martin Guptill available for this match, but he will be Adam Lyth’s opposite number when England and New Zealand meet at Lord’s next week. Their injury list is considerable: Wayne Madsen, Nathan Rimmington, John Clare, Wayne White and Tony Palladino are all missing. In last year’s fixture at Headingley, traffic further weakened Derbyshire’s side by preventing Tim Groenewald and Palladino from even turning up; they cannot afford a similar setback this time around.
Yorkshire Vikings squad: Andrew Gale (c), Jonathan Bairstow (wk), Jack Brooks, Tim Bresnan, Matthew Fisher, Andrew Hodd, Jack Leaning, Alex Lees, Steve Patterson, Liam Plunkett, Richard Pyrah, Adil Rashid, Will Rhodes.
Derbyshire Falcons squad: Wes Durston (c), Hashim Amla, Greg Cork, Ben Cotton, Scott Elstone, Mark Footitt, Billy Godleman, Alex Hughes, Chesney Hughes, Tom Knight, Tom Poynton (wk), Shiv Thakor, David Wainwright
Weather and conditions
There is apparently a 35% chance that rain will affect this fixture. Conditions will be cloudy, but there is every likelihood that the full 40 overs will be played.
Date: 15th May 2015
Umpires: Russell Evans & Graham Lloyd
Odds (SkyBet): Yorkshire 4/9, Derbyshire 7/4
Natwest T20 Blast Match Stats (in association with Opta)
Yorkshire have won six of their last seven T20s against Derbyshire.