Such has been their Division One domination over the last two seasons, every game Yorkshire play brings with it a buzz of excitement. But their clash with Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge is perhaps even more anticipated than usual with the game littered with International stars as Yorkshire seek their first win of the season against a Nottinghamshire side who are genuine contenders for their crown.
A combination of resilient Hampshire batsmen in their opening match and remarkably unseasonal weather at Edgbaston against Warwickshire has meant that Yorkshire haven’t had things all their own way so far in pursuit of a hat-trick of Division One titles. Back-to-back draws are by no means a disaster but Jason Gillespie’s side would have been hoping to have a win on the board heading into this big clash with Notts.
They will be bolstered by the addition of two stars of England’s World T20 campaign in Joe Root and new signing David Willey. Root boasts an impressive record for Yorkshire scoring 2,463 runs from his 63 knocks at an average of 43.98 – a record that improves in an England shirt. Willey has been brought in to add sparkle to Yorkshire’s underwhelming limited-overs performances but has stressed how keen he is to force his way into England’s Test match thinking. He is set to feature for the first time since making the move from Northants and will hope to catch the eye of the England selectors.
Willey joins up with ex-Northants teammate Jack Brooks at Yorkshire and the seamer has backed Willey to shine on his debut, in front of the Sky TV cameras.
“He’s the kind of guy who is likely to turn up for a box office game,” Brooks told the club website.
“He’s had to wait a while for his debut, but it ends up being in front of the cameras. Don’t be surprised to see him take a five-for or something.
“It’s probably a bit easier for someone like that to come into a changing room and get instant respect from everyone. It’s probably slightly different than me when I came in.”
The duo join other England stars Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid in an incredibly formidable Yorkshire squad. Nottinghamshire will boast experienced stars of their own and this game could feature as many as 15 capped internationals across both teams.
Nottinghamshire will be helped by the return of Alex Hales to the top of the order, hoping to secure his place at the top of England’s Test side while Stuart Broad will continue to spearhead the attack.
Having secured an impressive win against Surrey in the opening match, Notts were humbled by a comprehensive defeat to Lancashire at Old Trafford last time out. The Notts batsmen were blown away by Neil Wagner in that game, with the top six failing to make a half-century, and so will be desperate to improve against Yorkshire’s attack.
It’s a fixture that Yorkshire have dominated in the Championship over the years, winning 74 of the 200 meetings, compared to Notts’ 26 wins. If Mick Newell’s side have genuine hopes of taking Yorkshire’s crown they will have to prove their credentials in this match. With plenty at stake and a host of international stars, this promises to be one of the games of the season.
Jake Ball has made an impressive start to the new season and has acted as the leader of the Nottinghamshire attack. With 12 wickets in the bag so far at an average of 19.58, Ball is a young bowler catching the eye in Division One. Yorkshire will provide a stern test of his progress as a bowler but the signs are that Ball is emerging as a real prospect. Opening the bowling alongside Broad can only help and, with some aggressive lower order hitting, Ball is a key man for Nottinghamshire’s hopes.
With so many flair batsmen in the Yorkshire side, it is easy to overlook someone like Gary Ballance. But every order needs some glue to hold it together and Ballance is often that man. In difficult conditions against Warwickshire, the left-hander showed his grit and fortitude to make a well-fought 68 in a Yorkshire innings that spanned three days as a result of the weather. While the likes of Root and Bairstow can take an opposition apart, Ballance provides the insurance and will be hopeful of pressing his claims for an England Test recall.
Alex Hales will come in at the top of the Notts order, with either Steven Mullaney or Greg Smith likely to drop to number three. Michael Lumb may miss out after a disappointing start to the season while veteran Chris Read will skipper the side. There are unlikely to be any changes to the bowling unit, with internationals Harry Gurney and Jackson Bird again set to feature.
Nottinghamshire squad: Chris Read (c) (wk), Jake Ball, Jackson Bird, Stuart Broad, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Brett Hutton, Michael Lumb, Steven Mullaney, Samit Patel, Greg Smith, Brendan Taylor, Riki Wessels, Luke Wood
Ryan Sidebottom is ruled out with an ankle injury that may sideline him for a couple of matches and is replaced in the squad by fellow left-armer James Wainman who may make his senior debut. Jack Leaning is the man to make way for Root, despite impressing with a hard-fought half-century against Warwickshire, while David Willey comes in to add an all-rounder option for skipper Andrew Gale.
Yorkshire squad: Andrew Gale (c), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Gary Ballance, Jack Brooks, Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Steve Patterson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Will Rhodes, Joe Root, James Wainman, David Willey
Weather and Conditions
The game is set to be hit by a few scattered showers, with Monday likely to see the worst of the disruption. Trent Bridge generally offers some support for swing bowlers while some cloud cover on Sunday morning could tempt Gale into electing to bowl first.
Date: 1st – 4th May 2016
Ground: Trent Bridge
Umpires: Michael Gough, Richard Kettleborough, Richard Illingworth (TV umpire)
Odds (SkyBet): Nottinghamshire 6/5, Yorkshire 4/6
TV Coverage: Sky Sports 2, 10.30am daily