Friendly? What friendly! That was the view of a playful Lancashire coach Peter Moores ahead of Tuesday's trip to Headingley for a three-day, non first-class, clash with Roses rivals Yorkshire in a free week for both counties.
With neither in LV= County Championship action during the second week of the season, it is an ideal opportunity for both teams to get some more match practice under their belts. Both sides will play 12 players, with 11 to bat.
Lancs: Paul Horton (capt), Karl Brown, Steven Croft, Gareth Cross (wk), Kyle Hogg, Simon Kerrigan, Stephen Moore, Stephen Parry, Oliver Newby, Luke Procter, Tom Smith, Wayne White.
Yorks: Lyth, Root, Jaques, Gale (capt), Bairstow, Ballance, Rafiq, Rashid, Bresnan, Plunkett, Sidebottom, Brooks, Patterson
While Lancashire were able to make an encouraging start to their Division Two campaign by holding the upper hand against Worcestershire at Emirates Old Trafford last week, Yorkshire were not.
They fell to an innings defeat early on day four against Sussex at Headingley upon their return to the top flight.
The White Rose head into this week with a point to prove and some form to find, which means the first meeting between the two sides in red ball cricket since midway through 2011 will certainly not be a walk in the park.
They have permission to field England trio Joe Root, Tim Bresnan and Jonny Bairstow. The former two would be making their first appearances of the summer in county colours after England duty over the winter.
Root, 22-years-old, made a stunning start to his international career in all forms of the game, including a debut 73 in Test cricket against India back in December.
Bresnan, meanwhile, is in the latter stages of a recovery from elbow surgery that ruled him out of the tour to New Zealand. The all-rounder will need to find form quickly if he is to regain his Test place for the start of the home international summer next month.
“The fact they’ve had a tough game and want to get batters in nick will give it a nice bit of edge for them and for us, so it should be a good game of cricket,” said Moores.
“Lancashire and Yorkshire are always good games – never friendlies. Both sides will take it for what it is, and it’ll be played in the right spirit.”
Lancashire finished the game against Worcester extremely strongly, particularly with the bat on Friday and Saturday. But their victory charge was stopped dead by rain during the last three days of the fixture.
Moores added: “I was really pleased because we played the sort of cricket we said we wanted to at the start of the game, which was bowling with good discipline and then setting up the innings to be able to accelerate later.
“That lower middle-order of Cross, White, Chapple, Hogg, they’re all good, clean strikers of the ball, so to create platforms for them is what we’re looking to do.”
Lancashire completed the double over Yorkshire in 2011 on the way to Championship glory at Aigburth and then at Headingley. Both clashes were nail-biters.
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Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh