Both Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire recorded strong performances in their first LV= County Championship fixtures of 2015 at Lord’s and New Road respectively, but only the latter were able to force a win after Middlesex frustrated their visitors with some resilient batting on Day Four.
A century from new Kolpak signing Brendan Taylor and two sizeable unbeaten contributions from wicketkeeper-captain Chris Read saw Nottinghamshire go into the final day needing just nine wickets to take the sixteen points. In reality, they only needed eight due to a nasty hand injury to Dawid Malan, but they couldn’t force their way through a resolute Middlesex line-up that included former England opener Nick Compton.
Yorkshire dispelled concerns about how they would cope without the six members of their first-team squad touring with England in the Caribbean as well as their suspended captain Andrew Gale, by thumping newly-promoted Worcestershire inside three days.
It was a commanding performance from a team clearly running high on confidence: even without a major contribution from their star overseas batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, and despite a highly creditable and competitive performance from their hosts, Yorkshire were still comfortable victors thanks to the superb bowling efforts of Jack Brooks and Steven Patterson in particular, and a late-order batting rally from Tim Bresnan.
Yorkshire’s seemingly bottomless pool of talented young players may be plumbed once more due to an injury to senior bowler Ryan Sidebottom; but with last year’s champions at their weakest, deprived of seven key players including a premier strike bowler, there may never be a better chance for a pretender county to take their scalp.
In a week where he has expressed frustration at his treatment by the England set-up, Alex Hales will be keen to back up his words with a strong on-field performance against the champions. He looked a much-improved four-day batsman in 2014 after a tough 2013 in which he averaged 13.97 in the competition, and will be aiming to demonstrate that it was merely a bump in the road.
Steven Patterson demonstrated his value to the Yorkshire team he has served so well over recent years with excellent second-innings figures of 5-11 against Worcestershire. His economical bowling and lack of flamboyancy has inspired a parody twitter account – @boringpatto – but if he continues to play his vital role in this Yorkshire attack, they will be almost impossible to beat this year.
Yorkshire are still without the six first-team players – Adam Lyth, Joe Root, Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid and Liam Plunkett – in the Caribbean on international duty. Club captain Andrew Gale returns to first-team action after his suspension at the end of last season. Seamer Ryan Sidebottom misses out with a calf injury, which has led to speculation that York-born bowler Matthew Fisher could make his Championship debut aged just 17.
Nottinghamshire are obviously without Stuart Broad, but have learned to account for his absence over the years of his successful England career. Otherwise, they have named an unchanged squad from the game at Lord’s, and are likely to field the same XI as well.
Nottinghamshire squad: Chris Read (c/wk), Jake Ball, Will Gidman, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Steven Mullaney, Samit Patel, Vernon Philander, Brendan Taylor, James Taylor, Riki Wessels, Luke Wood.
Yorkshire squad: Andrew Gale (c), Jack Brooks, Tim Bresnan, Karl Carver, Matthew Fisher, Andrew Hodd (wk), Jack Leaning, Alex Lees, Steve Patterson, Cheteshwar Pujara, Richard Pyrah, Will Rhodes.
Weather and conditions
Dark grey skies are predicted for the first morning of the game, with overcast conditions prevailing for the afternoon day one. Sunny intervals with clouds are forecast for the rest of the match, with some completely clear periods on days three and four. Few, if any, interruptions due to rain.
Date: 19th – 22nd April 2015
Time: 11:00 am
Ground: Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Umpires: Rob Bailey & Steve Gale
Odds (SkyBet): Nottinghamshire 20/23, Yorkshire 20/21