When Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie was overlooked for the top job with England, it was suggested that his countryman Trevor Bayliss’s superior record in white-ball cricket eventually swayed the decision-makers. For all of the quality in their squad, and for all their success in the County Championship, Yorkshire lie second bottom in the North Division with only Derbyshire beneath them. The table remains tight, and a late surge could yet propel the Vikings into the knockout stages, but they are running out of time.
Durham Jets lie just outside the qualification spots, and they will have happy memories from last year’s Headingley encounter when Yorkshire imploded to hand them victory after posting just 123 in the first innings. Their bowling attack will be very similar to the heroes of 2014 (Collingwood, Arshad, Hastings, Borthwick and Rushworth are all named in the squad).
Yorkshire recruited the services of two members of Australia’s World Cup-winning squad for the T20 Blast, but they have not been able to translate strength on paper into points. One major bonus for the White Rose has been the emergence of 17-year-old Matthew Fisher as a death bowler of immense potential. In the Vikings’ match against Leicestershire at Grace Road, he delivered the 18th and 20th overs for just 11 runs and a run out, and then during their mauling by Lancashire, he was their most economical seamer.
Jonny Bairstow is in such splendid form that it would be folly to overlook him for the great honour of being named DEC’s key man for Yorkshire. He is a cut above county cricket, and with an average of 95 in the County Championship, he is keeping his team’s title defence on track and displaying the consistency he has been criticised for lacking in the past. The Blast may be seen as a lesser prize than the four-day title, but Yorkshire is a county that prides itself on competing in all areas of cricket, all the time. A poor showing in the Twenty20 would be disappointing given their level of investment in the competition.
If the pitch is anything like last year’s offering, Scott Borthwick could be the man to win it for Durham. His remarkable figures in that fixture of 4-0-11-2 tell you everything you need to know, and pace off the ball could be key again. His leg spin may have fallen behind that of his opposite number Adil Rashid’s in the international pecking order, but he is an improving spinner who could revive his chances of an England bow in the shortest format with a dominant performance at Headingley.
With Joe Root and Gary Ballance tearing it up for England at the SWALEC, and Jack Brooks and Ryan Sidebottom rested ahead of a busy push for a second consecutive County Championship win, Yorkshire are clearly not at full strength. They do, however, boast some impressive names: Adil Rashid and Liam Plunkett are named in the 14-man squad, although Plunkett’s fitness is by no means a certainty. The Australian pair of Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell are both still available.
Yorkshire Vikings squad: Andrew Gale (c), Jonathan Bairstow (wk), Tim Bresnan, Ben Coad, Aaron Finch, Matthew Fisher, Ryan Gibson, Jack Leaning, Alex Lees, Glenn Maxwell, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Will Rhodes, Joshua Shaw.
Mark Wood and Ben Stokes are both away at the Test match, and Calum MacLeod is also pulling on his national team’s jersey in the World T20 qualifiers for Scotland. Paul Coughlin is injured, but Durham also have a talented squad from which to choose their XI.
Durham Jets squad: Mark Stoneman (c), Usman Arshad, Scott Borthwick, Graham Clark, Paul Collingwood, Jamie Harrison. John Hastings, Keaton Jennings, Gordon Muchall, Phil Mustard (wk), Ryan Pringle, Mark Richardson, Chris Rushworth.
Weather and conditions
Cloudy but dry evening, and temperatures will be in the low to mid 20s.
Date: 10th July 2015
Umpires: Paul Baldwin & David Millns
Odds (SkyBet): Yorkshire 8/13, Durham 5/4