Gary Ballance ©
March 7 – Depart for Johannesburg
March 8 – Arrive in Johannesburg
March 9 – Practice
March 10 – Practice
March 11 – Practice
March 12 – Two-day match v Nottinghamshire
March 13 – Two-day match v Nottinghamshire
March 14 – Day off
March 15 – 50 over match v Leeds/Bradford UCCE
March 16 – 50 over match v Notts
March 17 – Two-day inter-squad match
March 18 – Two-day inter-squad match
March 20 – Depart for Manchester
March 21 – Arrive in Manchester
First XI coach Andrew Gale has named a 20-man squad for the Club’s pre-season tour of South Africa next month.
After three successive trips to the United Arab Emirates, the playing staff and coaches will fly to Potchefstroom, South Africa on March 7 for a 13-day stay at the NWU PUK Sports Village. The White Rose will play separate two-day and 50-over matches against Nottinghamshire, as well as a 50-over match against Leeds Bradford UCCE and an inter-squad two-day game.
The squad are due to arrive back in the UK on March 21, with a two-day match against Durham at Emirates Riverside (April 3) and the First-Class fixture against Leeds Bradford MCCU, which gets underway on Saturday April 7, already scheduled. The Club’s Specsavers County Championship season opener against Essex is on Friday April 13, 1100 start.
Bowler Liam Plunkett, who was recently ruled out of the ODI series against New Zealand with a hamstring injury, will travel with the squad for the full trip as he steps up his recovery, while David Willey is due to join up with the group on March 14, following the completion of the five-match international series.
England U19 captain Harry Brook, who made his County Championship debut against Essex at Scarborough in 2017, will tour as part of his first full pre-season with the senior squad and recently spent time at the Fanie du Toit Sportsgrounds for England’s pre-World Cup training camp. Brook is joined by Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Jared Warner and Willey in touring with Yorkshire for the first time.
Club captain Gary Ballance, who turned down the chance to represent the North squad in Barbados in March, will instead tour with his White Rose team-mates having missed winter training at Emerald Headingley due to the Ashes tour.
England Test captain Joe Root and wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow are unavailable due to the Test series in New Zealand.
“What we wanted to do was to create team spirit throughout the winter,” Gale told yorkshireccc.com. “I thought we lost a bit of that last year due to lack of form and results, so we’ve worked very hard on that and this provides us with an opportunity to get everyone together before the start of the season. It will be great to have the England lads with us, but also some of the younger lads who haven’t been on tour with us before.
“The lads are ready to get outside now. We came back earlier than we usually do from a cricketing point of view. We felt we had some areas to work on and now we’re getting to a place where we need some competitive cricket. There’s only so many skills you can do inside so we’re ready to get outdoors and practice those skills under some pressure.
“I’ve been to Potch a few times with my own academy Pro Coach and I went with the Yorkshire Academy a few years back. For starters, it’s a great facility. The nets are just around the corner so that’ll cut a few hours a day travelling out of the schedule. There’s also a fantastic gym on site too.
“You’re sort of living on top of one another too, which again will help build that team spirit and stand us in good stead for the season. When I heard Notts were going out there it meant we were going to get quality opposition too.
“There’s more competition for places at the Club than I’ve ever known. There’s a few older heads in there that want to put a few wrongs right from last year and they’ve come back as hungry as ever. There’s also an opportunity there for some of the younger lads, and it’ll be whoever scores the most runs and whoever is in the best form that gets picked.
“Effectively, it’s the first opportunity for some of these guys to stake a claim.”