Roses preview

After a two year wait, there is finally going to be a four day Roses match this week. It has to be said though, that unless Lancashire play a lot better than they have shown for most of the start of the year and especially better than a fortnight ago against Middlesex, the match may not be worth the wait.

The match against Middlesex was not quite a shambles, but our batting effectively failed again. Whilst it was our highest first innings score this season, it was not nearly enough on a fairly flat wicket on which our bowlers toiled. Middlesex admittedly batted well, but it is worth remembering that going into that match they had faired little better than we had with the bat. Even with Kyle Hogg returning, only scoring 266 in a flat wicket in the first innings was simply not enough. Much as I hate to say it, Yorkshire look to be a strong side and they will provide just as much of a test as Middlesex did. The batsmen in particular will have to rise to this challenge much better.

Whether or not that will actually happen, we will have to see. The signs in the three day match against Loughborough MCCU were mixed, but it did seem a bit more of the same: a poor first innings total bailed out by a good performance with the ball and then a better batting display in the second innings. I don’t think that will be good enough against Yorkshire. Unfortunately there isn’t really an obvious solution. Luis Reece and Karl Brown both scored second innings runs, but that isn’t really a cause for optimism as much as it is a reason not to drop them.

If we do manage to get some runs on the board, I would back our bowling to be able to make inroads, but as we saw against Middlesex, that isn’t a guarantee. Jimmy Anderson will be absent again, though an attack of Glen Chapple, Kyle Hogg, Tom Smith (on current form) and Simon Kerrigan should be quite capable. It might be worth playing Kabir Ali as he has looked fairly sharp over the start of the season, but ultimately I would prefer not to weaken the batting any more.

I won’t actually be able to follow this match very closely though; I am currently at a radio observatory in the mountains of eastern California and will be throughout the match. This post was actually supposed to go up days ago, but due to packing and travel I could not quite finish it. I’ll be seeing score updates and my fingers are crossed, but I do worry that the typical turgid draw of a Roses match may be the best case result this time.

Mustn’t laugh, mustn’t laugh…

The fact that Yorkshire were relegated last year still makes me happy. Not as happy as Lancs winning the County Championship, of course, but still very happy. I shouldn’t laugh of course, I don’t want to be too cruel to the White Rose. And it’ll be quite disappointing not having any Roses matches next year. I really enjoyed doing the double over them last year and we’ll have to wait until 2013 to do it again.

Obviously Yorkshire are intent on returning to the top flight in 2013, but the extend of their shake-up is surprising. They’ve revamped their coaching set up and Jason Gillespie is the new first team coach. The biggest surprise for me, however, is that Phil Jaques is rejoining the club as their overseas player next year. I had been under the impression that they still would not be able to afford one, so I’m curious as to where they got the money. From a Yorkshire standpoint it looks like a very good series of moves. Both Geoffrey Boycott and Michael Vaughan were involved and it’s hard to imagine any pair with better Yorkshire credentials than that. I think Yorkshire were probably going to be favourites to win promotion next year (though it’s obviously very early and it isn’t clear how their opponents will look next April) and this ought to boost their chances. The lack of an overseas player this year clearly hurt them; Rudolph’s brief appearance was not enough. Their coaching staff was unable to make the most of their homegrown talent in the same way Lancashire did, so this probably addresses their two biggest problems.

My desire for schadenfreude aside, it’s probably a good thing that Yorkshire have gone to unprecedented lengths to ensure that there will be Roses cricket in 2013. They are one of the most historic counties, and the Championship is probably better off with them in the top flight. I still enjoy seeing them lose though.