War of the worlds

Wounded Tykes get the big guns out for Hants battle...

The Cricket Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Stocks

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.

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

North ver­sus South: Hamp­shire’s Kyle Ab­bott and York­shire’s Joe Root

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