The County Championship swings back into action with the biggest rivalry in English domestic cricket, as Yorkshire make the trip across the Pennines to face their Roses rivals Lancashire.
Three weeks of one-day action has seen Yorkshire get the better of Lancashire, with the Vikings progressing through to the knockout phase thanks to a second-placed finish in the North Group of the Royal London One-Day Cup.
The Lightning missed out on qualification thanks largely to losing their first three matches, including a comprehensive defeat at Headingley. Their form improved however, winning four of their last five matches and ultimately they only missed out on the quarter finals by one place.
But both will be relishing the opportunity to reignite this historic rivalry in the County Championship. Lancashire sit second in the Division One table after an unbeaten start to their red-ball campaign.
A remarkable victory last time out against Somerset backed up solid draws away at Essex and Surrey, to have Lancashire feeling confident in their Championship form.
“I think the cricket that we’ve played stands up against anyone,” Lancashire coach Glen Chapple said after that Somerset win.
“We can feel fairly confident that we’re playing good enough cricket and can continue to make progress and see where we can improve.”
Yorkshire have made a slightly more stuttering start in their bid to regain the title they won in 2014 and 2015. They have one win from their three matches as well as a draw and an opening round defeat against Hampshire.
Andrew Gale’s side, though, are just five points adrift of their Roses rivals and only nine points off leaders Surrey, given the tight nature of the fledgling Division One table.
The White Rose had the edge on the rivalry in last year’s Championship, winning at Headingley before picking up a draw at Old Trafford.
Haseeb Hameed really underlined his ability as a talented young batsman with his performance in the draw in this fixture last year. Hameed notched a century in both innings and both came in contrasting styles. His first innings 114 came from 209 balls while his second innings unbeaten century came from just 124 balls as he attempted to set up a Lancashire victory push.
Hameed’s form this season has been poor. After two scores in the 40s against Essex, the right-hander has made two ducks and a score of seven in his three innings since. He has since made his white-ball debut, impressing in patches, so he will hope to recapture his Championship form here.
Yorkshire have been hugely reliant on the form of Gary Ballance this season. The England international took on the captaincy this season and has responded with incredible early-season form. Ballance is easily the top scorer in Division One, notching 508 runs – 150 runs more than second-placed Kumar Sangakkara. He has three centuries from the first three matches and continued that form in the one-day cup. Ballance is crucial to Yorkshire’s hopes.
Kyle Jarvis fractured his left thumb in training on Thursday morning and so the seamer misses out. Jordan Clark continues to be sidelined after injuring his back against Derbyshire last week, but Shivnarine Chanderpaul returns to the squad after sitting out the one-day campaign.
Lancashire Squad: Steven Croft (C), James Anderson, Tom Bailey, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Alex Davies, Haseeb Hameed, Simon Kerrigan, Danny Lamb, Liam Livingstone, Ryan McLaren, Stephen Parry, Luke Procter, Rob Jones, Dane Vilas
Yorkshire’s bowling ranks have been boosted significantly by the return from injury of Ryan Sidebottom and Jack Brooks, who have both missed all the season so far. 39-year-old Sidebottom is in his final year before retirement.
Yorkshire Squad: Gary Ballance (c), Tim Bresnan, Jack Brooks, Karl Carver,Ben Coad, Matthew Fisher, Peter Handscomb, Andrew Hodd (wk), Jack Leaning, Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Steven Patterson, Azeem Rafiq, Ryan Sidebottom
Weather and Conditions
It’s set to be a cloudy day at Old Trafford, which could prompt Ballance to choose to bowl first, though the pitch usually is a good surface to bat on at Old Trafford.
Date: 19th – 22nd May 2017
Ground: Emirates Old Trafford
Umpires: Jeremy Lloyds & Nick Cook
Odds (SkyBet): Lancashire 1/1, Yorkshire 4/5