YORKSHIRE first-team coach Andrew Gale is confident that his side can maintain their 100 per cent start to the Royal London Cup despite the absence of their five England players.
Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett and David Willey are unavailable for today’s game away to Worcestershire and Sunday’s match against Derbyshire at Headingley.
Root, Bairstow and Rashid appeared in Yorkshire’s first three games as the club went top of the North Group, while Plunkett and Willey played in the first two.
The quintet are now on England duty for the one-day internationals against Ireland in Bristol today and at Lord’s on Sunday before returning to Yorkshire action for the games at Northants on Wednesday and at Warwickshire on Sunday week.
The five players are then unavailable for the final group match at home to Leicestershire on Tuesday week, which clashes with a pre-Champions Trophy training camp in Spain.
Although Yorkshire’s England contingent have so far made important contributions, not least Bairstow with a career-best 174 in Wednesday’s win over Durham, Gale is adamant that his squad can get by.
“We said from the outset that it’s going to need a real squad effort in this competition,” he said. “The England lads are away for two games now, and it’s about other people standing up and producing a selection headache for myself and Gary (captain Gary Ballance) when they do come back.
“Guys will be given an opportunity, and it’s up to the people who come into the side to try and follow Jonny’s example.
“If we can win our next two games, we’ll be in a good position and we’ve got to keep this momentum going and keep the confidence within the dressing room.”
Will Rhodes and Ryan Gibson come into the squad for today’s match at New Road against a Worcestershire side who are second in the group.
We said from the outset that it’s going to need a real squad effort in this competition.Yorkshire first-team coach, Andrew Gale.
Worcestershire won their first two games at home to Notts and away to Leicestershire before tieing their match at Northants on Wednesday.
“They’re a good, workmanlike side,” said Gale. “We’d be naive if we went there and under-estimated them, so I expect us to turn it up a little bit more and be right on the ball come 11 o’clock Friday.
“We’ve obviously got to shuffle the pack with the England lads away, but we felt that we might have had to chop and change a little bit more already in the first few games.
“One or two guys got away quite lightly with workloads – Bres (Tim Bresnan) didn’t bowl much in the first two games, and neither did Fish (Matthew Fisher) – but it’s a pretty brutal schedule so we’re certainly going to need the squad.”
Yorkshire go into action on the back of their highest successful one-day run-chase, comfortably knocking off a target of 336 to beat Durham by six wickets with 14 balls to spare. It followed wins at Notts and at home to Lancashire and left Gale delighted.
“It was an amazing run-chase,” he said. “We probably let Durham get 30-40 runs more than they should have done, and we knew that someone would have to play well to chase the runs down. But Jonny Bairstow was brutal and it was fantastic to watch. He can take the game away in an hour.”
Yorkshire have used Bairstow at the top of the order in the Royal London Cup, a role Gale believes he can fulfil for England.
“We’ve put Jonny at the top of the order and I think England have looked at him in that position as well,” he said. “I certainly think he can do a job for England at the top of the order.
“If he’s given the chance in the next few weeks before the Champions Trophy, I’d love to see him grasp it and to play for England like he has done for us. He is such a difficult batsman to bowl to.”
Having worked tirelessly on their one-day cricket in the winter, Gale is pleased with Yorkshire’s progress.
“It’s been a good start, but that’s all it is – a start,” he said.
“Things can change quickly, so it’s about backing it up now.”
Yorkshire (from): Ballance (capt), Bresnan, Carver, Coad, Fisher, Gibson, Handscomb, Leaning, Lees, Lyth, Patterson, Rafiq, Rhodes, Waite.