Yorkshire are not only sat at the top of Division One in the County Championship, they are there with a 34 point lead ahead of their closest rivals – Warwickshire. Durham are just four points behind Warwickshire.
This weekend is a big test for the reigning Champions though; two years ago their title hopes were squandered during a match against Durham at North Marine Road in Scarborough. Which is precisely the match occurring this weekend.
These two teams are real heavy-weights of the County Championship and it should prove to be a challenging match as well as one that could generate some milestones. Spinner Adil Rashid requires one wicket for a First-Class total of 400 and Ryan Sidebottom needs 11 wickets to hit the 700.
The latter may well sound like a stretch for the 38 year old but with career-best figures of 7-37 achieved twice over – once at Headingley and once at Scarborough – he would only need four dismissals in the second innings.
Let’s not forget of course the bowling fire-power brought to the table by Durham however. Chris Rushworth is leading the way this season to date with 64 wickets at an average of 19.20 and Yorkshire’s Jack Brooks is 16 wickets behind him on 48 with an average of 21.75 – and he is rested for this particular match.
For a big match, it could easily turn into a man-against-man battle of skill.
In the batting stakes, Durham’s Scott Borthwick is currently sitting third in the table this season and eyeing up the 1000 run marker. He has performed repeatedly for Durham this season and just will be entering this match on the back of a brilliant performance against Leicestershire in the RLODC scoring 87 from 92 and then taking 5-38.
While Jonny Bairstow currently has the most runs in the County Championship with 980, he will not be included in this match due to England duty so Borthwick could just edge himself ahead with a solid performance in the seaside town.
Yorkshire’s Championship performance has been consistent since their most recent promotion from Division Two – reflected by the number of games the team are winning as opposed to not losing. Durham will pose a challenge to the home side however as they are real title contenders for this year.
For Yorkshire, Gary Ballance continues his sojourn from international duty and participates in his first County Championship match since June and Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid are able to be included after they missed out on selection for the fourth Ashes Test. Jonny Bairstow remains with the England side which makes space for Andrew Hodd and his gloves. Jack Brooks is rested.
Jack Burnham makes his First-Class debut for Durham.
Yorkshire squad: Andrew Gale (captain), Gary Ballance, Tim Bresnan, Matthew Fisher, Andrew Hodd (wicketkeeper), Jack Leaning, Alex Lees, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Patterson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Will Rhodes, Ryan Sidebottom.
Durham squad: Mark Stoneman, Graham Clark, Scott Borthwick, Gordon Muchall, Michael Richardson, Jack Burnham, Ryan Pringle, John Hastings, Jamie Harrison, Chris Rushworth, Graham Onions
The Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale tends to lead from the front when they play in the fondly-nicknamed ‘Scarbados’. In 2013, in the process of passing 1000 runs in the County Championship competition for the first time, Gale played his way to a career-best 272 on the North Marine Road ground. Depending on your level of superstition, it may be noted that Gale made his debut for Yorkshire at Scarborough as well.
Despite perhaps not being in the finest of fettles of late and passing the limited overs captaincy baton down, Gale is a strong captain and will be pushing his men forward and leading from the front to put the best bid possible in to secure the title for a second year running.
As for the visitors, Scott Borthwick will be participating in his 100th First Class match and has been demonstrating his all-rounder abilities throughout the season. In the County Championship it has to be said that his legspin has been less effective than in the shorter formats with just nine wickets to date, but with a batting average up there with the best of them, Borthwick will have the opportunity at Scarborough to show just what he is capable of.
Umpires: Nick Cook and Jeremy Lloyds
Ground: North Marine Road, Scarborough
Date: Friday 7th August 2015
Weather and conditions: Currently everything’s coming up roses at the seaside for August in England! The temperature should offer up a balmy average of 20 degrees for all four days with the worst from above being simple cloud.
Odds (SkyBet): Yorkshire 8/15, Durham 11/8