Yorkshire’s preparations for this week’s final round of County Championship matches have been rocked by the ECB refusing to allow Jonny Bairstow to play against Middlesex. The White Rose county have issued a statement on their official site highlighting their disappointment that the player won’t be free to play in this crucial match with the final paragraph saying: “Bairstow has played five days of cricket in five weeks since the Kia Oval Test match, which finished on Sunday August 14.”
If this wasn’t a big enough blow Adil Rashid has remarkably requested to withdraw from the match as he would like to rest ahead of a potentially demanding winter schedule for England. Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale confirmed Rashid’s unusual request on Twitter yet there has been no official statement from Yorkshire other than confirmation that Rashid is not in the squad.
The Tykes go into the game chasing a hat-trick of Championship wins having been crowned in 2014 and 2015. If they were to win again in 2016 it would be only the 9th time in Cricket history that a team has won three consecutive titles, and Yorkshire have achieved this five times starting in season’s 1900, 1923, 1931, 1937 and 1966. Surrey has achieved this twice, starting in 1890 (the first three seasons of the Championship) and again starting in 1952 when the club were crowned champions for an amazing seven consecutive seasons. Lancashire were the others in 1926.
Yorkshire has far-and-away the most title wins with 32 plus one shared victory in 1949, ironically with Middlesex who they are up against in 2016.
For Yorkshire to lose two international quality players may have negative implications away from Headingley with Somerset having more than a vested interest in the match result at Lords. Somerset can ill afford a Middlesex win being 10 points behind the Londoners but if Yorkshire and Somerset both win the final league table will be decided by which county takes most bonus points in their respective games. A low scoring draw at Lords and a Somerset win would see the cider county take the title for the first time.
Now I am only looking at this from a Somerset perspective, and am not privy to Rashid’s current medical situation, but I find it staggering that a player would wish to be rested thereby missing a game as important as this. Rashid is a Bradford lad and proud Yorkshireman and he has the chance to play his part in making history.
Jake Lehmann is also unavailable as he returned to Australia.