Yorkshire face Warwickshire in their first home game of the LV= County Championship season in what may well end up a crucial fixture in their quest to defend the title. Warwickshire finished second last season, and with the hosts’ squad still depleted by their six England call-ups as well as an injury to key bowler Ryan Sidebottom, they may well see this as a valuable opportunity to strike an important blow in the early stages of the campaign.
Yorkshire’s ranks will be boosted, however, with the surprising return of Leeds-born James Middlebrook on a short-term contract. 37-year-old spinning all-rounder Middlebrook was released by Northamptonshire after they were relegated in 2014, despite being one of the club’s most consistent performers. Yorkshire had contacted England coach Peter Moores about the possibility of Adil Rashid returning home after Moeen Ali joined the England touring party after the first Test in the West Indies, but their application was rejected. Young spinner Karl Carver, who played in their first match against Worcestershire, will continue his development in the second team.
Warwickshire were held to a draw by newly-promoted Hampshire in their first game of the season. Boyd Rankin picked up six wickets but Hampshire still managed to post 319, before a century from wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose helped Warwickshire recover from 92-5 to finish their first innings on 280. They went into the final day needing 332 runs with all of their wickets intact, but both sides were forced to settle for the draw, Varun Chopra’s 309-ball 119* setting the tone for the day. Yorkshire started their season with a draw at Trent Bridge and a win at New Road, and if they can start their home season with a win this week, they will be well on their way to a strong defence of their title.
Weather and conditions
While the weather has been warm and dry in Leeds lately, there are some showers forecast on every day of this match, including heavy showers on Sunday.
Date: 26th-29th April 2015
Umpires: Steve Garratt & Nigel Llong
Odds (SkyBet): Yorkshire 10/13, Warwickshire 11/10
Young Jack Leaning broke into the Yorkshire first team last season due to the absence of Gary Ballance and Joe Root, and he has set about cementing his place in convincing style. He recorded his maiden first-class century during the draw at Trent Bridge, demonstrating a maturity and comfort with top-level cricket that has been a hallmark of Yorkshire’s successful academy products in recent years.
Rikki Clarke demonstrated his continuing importance to this Warwickshire side by claiming three wickets and four catches in their game against Hampshire at Edgbaston. He didn’t make as much of an impact with the bat in that game, but his all-round talents give Warwickshire an enviable balance that could give them an edge over other counties.
Yorkshire are without their England players (Joe Root, Gary Ballance, Liam Plunkett, Jonny Bairstow, Adam Lyth and Adil Rashid) after their application for Rashid to return home was rejected by England. Their captain Andrew Gale returned from suspension at Trent Bridge, but fast bowler Ryan Sidebottom is ruled out with a calf injury that will keep him from playing for around six weeks. They have signed James Middlebrook who was without a county this season, and he is likely to come into the team at the expense of Richard Pyrah.
Yorkshire squad: Andrew Gale (c), Jack Brooks, Tim Bresnan, Matthew Fisher, Andrew Hodd (wk), Jack Leaning, Alex Lees, James Middlebrook, Steven Patterson, Cheteshwar Pujara, Richard Pyrah, Will Rhodes.
Warwickshire squad: Varun Chopra (c), Keith Barker, Rikki Clarke, Laurie Evans, Sam Hain, Ateeq Javid, Richard Jones, Pete McKay (wk), Jeetan Patel, William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin, Ian Westwood, Chris Wright