The atmosphere around Headingley stadium at the moment is alive with the buzz of a September filled with tension and hopefully trophies and titles.
A solid 43 point lead – and a game in hand – in the County Championship puts Yorkshire in a solid position for regaining the title this year. All that will be decided later though; first and foremost the team are focussed on the semi-final of the Royal London One Day Cup in which they face Gloucestershire.
There are plenty of ties between the two teams as Richard Dawson and Ian Harvey make up key parts of the coaching team at Gloucestershire having featured heavily for Yorkshire in their days as players.
Harvey, who during his playing days at Gloucestershire, helped the side to six one-day cup titles and is keen to Sunday. He told their website, “These are the games you play for; a semi-final at Headingly in front of a big crowd, on Sky – it’s a great chance for the boys.
Equally, the host team are eager to get their teeth into the match. Seam bowler Tim Bresnan insists that the team’s focus is fully on Sunday’s fixture and the team enjoy nothing more than a full-to-bursting Headingley for big games: “The boys enjoy playing at Headingley, especially in front of a big crowd. Early indications suggest there will be a decent turnout and it will be good to see a packed house.”
Although both teams won their quarter-final fixtures, neither are able to boast an end-of-season flurry of victories so a bit of pride as well as a place in the final will be at stake.
Man of the moment Jonny Bairstow should be set for yet another good match – barring the journalist’s curse that is. He may have only featured in one RLODC match this year but his averages in both the Championship at the Natwest T20 Blast, not to mention his heroics at Durham for England against New Zealand, do all the talking for him. In the Blast he averaged 32.00 and in the Championship, from 13 innings, he has smashed his way to a 107.10 average. If Gloucestershire fail to remove him early, you can hedge your bets that he’ll fire.
Gloucestershire’s Benny Howell has the potential to play a key role with both bat and ball. Although captain Michael Klinger is the stand-out batsman with a 98.50 average in this form of the game, the fact that Howell is second place in the team rankings for batting and bowling (of those players who have featured in all nine matches) makes him invaluable to his captain. With the ball, Howell has taken wickets at an average of 5.28 while with the bat he is averaging 48.50 – Yorkshire will need to watch him carefully.
Both Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid feature in the squad for Yorkshire’s RLODC semi-final but as they are both featuring for England the day before in the ODI, the host team are awaiting confirmation of their availability.
Michael Klinger has returned to Gloucestershire despite flying home last week supposedly not to return until next year and Ian Cockbain is included in the squad now that he has returned to playing following an episode of injury with a broke wrist.
Yorkshire squad: Alex Lees (captain), Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Gary Ballance, Tim Bresnan, Jack Brooks, Karl Carver, Matthew Fisher, Andy Hodd, Jack Leaning, Adam Lyth, Steve Patterson, Liam Plunkett, Rich Pyrah, Adil Rashid, Will Rhodes
Gloucestershire squad: Michael Klinger (captain), Chris Dent, Ian Cockbain, James Fuller, Benny Howell, Geraint Jones, Hamish Marshall, Kieran Noema-Barnett, Liam Norwell, David Payne, Gareth Roderick (wicketkeeper), Tom Smith, Will Tavare, Jack Taylor.
Umpires: Jeremy Lloyds and Neil Mallender
Ground: Headingley, Leeds
Date: Sunday 6th September
Weather and conditions: A balmy – for Yorkshire – September day is on the cards for this particular fixture with a clear start and some cloud cover edging in over the afternoon. A south eastern wind of around 10mph could play something of a role for the bowlers as well.
Odds (SkyBet): Yorkshire 4/9, Somerset 7/4