War of the worlds
Wounded Tykes get the big guns out for Hants battle...
ENGLAND stars Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow will both return today to play their first County Championship match of the season as "wounded" Yorkshire eye revenge against Hampshire.
Andrew Gale’s side suffered a shock defeat by Hampshire in their opening game of the season at Headingley earlier this month.
But Yorkshire’s attempt to settle the score on the south coast has been boosted by the return of their big guns.
Root will make his first Yorkshire appearance since taking on the Test captaincy earlier this year while Bairstow, controversially rested by England for the opening two rounds of the Championship despite hardly playing any cricket so far this year, is also set to be in his county’s XI at the Ageas Bowl.
The visitors, who have seven current or former England internationals in their 13-man squad for the match, bounced back from that opening defeat with a crushing innings win against Warwickshire, with Ben Coad taking ten wickets in the match.
And the White Rose are keen to produce another statement of intent by turning the tables on Kolpak-strengthened Hampshire, whose win at Headingley was inspired by seven second-innings wickets from former South Africa seamer Kyle Abbott.
“We were wounded about what happened in the first game,” said coach Gale. “We’re going down there to win, that’s for sure.”
Hampshire are only playing Division One cricket following a reprieve last year after the ECB punished Durham with relegation to Division Two.
And Yorkshire are determined to not slip up again.
Captain Gary Ballance added: “We’d like to reverse that result. We have more guys fit now, bowlers wise, and obviously we have Root and Bairstow coming back for this game. They are pretty decent players, aren’t they?”
Meanwhile, Headingley’s longterm future as an international venue has been secured after Leeds City Council formally approved an emergency deal to ensure a £35million stadium upgrade can go ahead.
The ground’s status was under threat when the council pulled out of lending Yorkshire £4m towards the work on a new stand that will serve both Headingley and the adjoining rugby stadium.
However, the project will now go ahead after the council brokered and underwrote a deal with a private financial services firm.
North versus South: Hampshire’s Kyle Abbott and Yorkshire’s Joe Root