Worcestershire this season have been cricketing walruses. In their best format, they have been graceful, beautiful, and deadly in the pursuit of their prey. However, on the terra firma of the County Championship, they have floundered and currently languish at the bottom of Division One. They will be hoping that they can take some momentum from their white-ball form as they leap back into the longest format at Scarborough.
Their hosts do not have the same problem with inconsistency. Yorkshire have played well in patches in all three domestic tournaments, but this will be their third consecutive season without a sniff of silverware.
That is not to say that the remaining County Championship fixtures are irrelevant for the home side: they remain in danger of relegation if they put together a string of poor performances, and with pressure mounting on the coaching staff, these matches could be career-defining for some of the backroom staff, if not the players.
With several of Yorkshire’s key players engaged in the third Test match against India, Worcestershire’s hopes of avoiding relegation have been boosted by the availability of Moeen Ali and the non-selection of Joe Clarke, who was tipped to be in the running for a Test debut before being pipped to the post by Surrey’s Ollie Pope.
Neither of those excellent batsmen resemble walruses in any way, shape, or form, and if Worcestershire stand any chance of remaining in the top flight, much of the damage will need to come from those two dangerous tusks.
Gary Ballance has been a fish out of water at times in the Vitality Blast, despite flashes of fine hitting in places. Despite a modest average of under 30, he has one of Yorkshire’s two Championship centuries this season along with two fifties.
While his Test career may regrettably feel a long time ago with a man eight years younger than him currently occupying the number four slot for England, he forced his way back into the side in 2017 through sheer weight of runs, and there is nothing to say that he could not do that again.
Another England cast-off completes the key player roster in the form of Moeen Ali. Simply the most elegant batsman in the county game (sorry James Vince, but we love a lefty here) and a more than useful spinner, Moeen has been in scintillating form in the Vitality Blast and will be central to Worcestershire’s bid to avoid the drop.
Yorkshire squad TBC
Worcestershire squad: Moeen Ali (c), Ed Barnard, Joe Clarke, Ben Cox (wk), Tom Fell, Alex Milton, Daryl Mitchell, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Dillon Pennington, Josh Tongue, Ollie Westbury, Ross Whiteley
Weather and conditions
Rain is scheduled for the first couple of days, but not during the hours of play on day one. Days three and four are supposed to be dry.
Date: 19th-22nd August 2018
Odds (SkyBet): Yorkshire 10/11, Worcestershire 10/11