With the eyes of the sporting world on Rio and the opening weekend of the Premier League season, it’s been easy to overlook the presence of a Roses clash on the packed calendar. It’s not even got the honour of being the most important event in cricket this week, that going to the final Test with Pakistan, but one thing you can always guarantee when Lancashire and Yorkshire meet is pure, unbridled passion.
It’s a special kind of rivalry, one rooted in history and tradition, and one that is as fierce and as hotly-contested today as it ever has been. When Yorkshire edged out their cross-Pennine rivals earlier in the season, it dealt a blow to Lancashire’s fledgling hopes of launching a title tilt on their return to Division One.
Lancashire haven’t won a four-day game since and while the first division remains a tight affair, the Red Rose are now looking over their shoulders as much as they are glancing up at the top of the table.
Their last Championship outing was a run-fest against Hampshire, with 19-year-old Haseeb Hameed shining brightly with scores of 89 and 57 as they secured a hard-fought draw at the Rose Bowl.
Injuries have played their part but the early season promise that was evident in the first few months of the season has well and truly faded. Failure to get out of the group stage of both the T20 Blast and Royal London One-Day Cup means that the Championship is all Lancashire have to focus on and a strong finish to the season will be on the agenda.
In contrast, Yorkshire have their eyes fixed firmly on an unprecedented treble. The victory over Glamorgan in midweek secured a spot at T20 Finals Day, while a 50-over quarter-final is already in the bag. Jason Gillespie’s side are just 13 points adrift of leaders Middlesex with a game in hand in the Championship.
A crucial 48-run win against Warwickshire was a pivotal moment in their bid for a hat-trick of Division One titles and they will be confident of securing that aim with just six matches to go.
Lancashire will want to put the brakes on their Roses rivals bid for another title and get themselves back to winning ways in the process. Yorkshire will enter as firm favourites against their somewhat-beleaguered opponents, but in Roses battles form tends to fly firmly out of the window.
After shining at the back end of last season, Haseeb Hameed was given the chance to open the batting in Division One and the 19-year-old has impressed. Displaying remarkable fortitude and a concentration beyond his years, the right-hander has amassed 816 runs at an average of 48.00 including two centuries. He will be the rock Lancashire will hope can guide them against Yorkshire.
Adam Lyth has been crucial to Yorkshire’s efforts in Division One and is continuing to shine in his bid to reclaim an England spot. Three centuries and an average of 37.61 underline the form that the left-hander has been in and he heads to Old Trafford with fond memories. His best First Class score of 251 and best List A score of 136 came at the ground and Lyth will want to recapture similar form this week.
On-loan keeper Tom Moores has joined the England under-19 squad in another blow to Lancashire’s selection, meaning Steven Croft is set to keep wicket. Young seamer Saqib Mahmood is likely to continue in the side after appearing against Hampshire.
Lancashire squad: Nathan Buck, Jordan Clark, Steven Croft (captain & wicketkeeper), Haseeb Hameed, Kyle Jarvis, Simon Kerrigan, Arron Lilley, Liam Livingstone, Saqib Mahmood, Matthew Parkinson, Alviro Petersen, Luke Procter, Tom Smith
Jake Lehmann has come into the squad for the first time in place of the departed Travis Head while Liam Plunkett is back in the squad.
Yorkshire squad: Tim Bresnan, Jack Brooks, Andrew Gale (Captain), Andrew Hodd (wicketkeeper), Jack Leaning, Alex Lees, Jake Lehmann, Adam Lyth, Steven Patterson, Liam Plunkett, Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Ryan Sidebottom, David Willey
Weather and Conditions
The weather is set to pick up across the weekend and days three and four could be very warm. Old Trafford always offers something for both bat and ball.
Date: 13th August 2016
Ground: Emirates Old Trafford
Umpires: Paul Baldwin & David Milns
Odds: Lancashire 5/4, Yorkshire 8/13