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Ballance and Ashraf out of Lord's clash

Yorkshire have suffered a double injury blow ahead of their LV= County Championship clash with fellow Division One high-fliers Middlesex at Lord’s.

Already without Jack Brooks, who is still recovering from a broken thumb, the Tykes are unable to include Gary Ballance or Moin Ashraf this week.

In-form middle-order batsman Ballance, one of only eight men to have passed 500 championship runs so far this summer, is suffering from a virus, while fast bowler Ashraf has a stiff back.

However, two other members of Yorkshire’s bowling unit - Liam Plunkett and Richard Pyrah - have been passed fit for the trip to the home of cricket.

First team coach Jason Gillespie, who could hand a first-class debut to 19-year-old seamer Ben Coad, has been delighted with the form his side have showed since being trounced by Sussex in the opening round of fixtures.

Both Yorkshire and Middlesex trail Sussex by just five points and Gillespie said: “After a poor start I think we've played some wonderful cricket.

The Australian continued: “We talk about driving games and being in the driving seat, and I believe we have been in each and every game since Sussex.
 
“We've been in a position to win the matches and I think that's the result of the way we've gone out to bat and our aggressive bowling. Our fielding's been pretty good but our challenge is to maintain these things and keep our standards as high as they possibly can be.”

Middlesex have named an unchanged squad from last week's draw with Sussex, although Corey Collymore is likely to come into the team in place of either Tim Murtagh, James Harris or Toby Roland-Jones.

Runaway Division Two leaders Northamptonshire will begin life without Trent Copeland when they take on bottom club Leicestershire at Grace Road.

Copeland has returned to Australia in preparation for their domestic season, having picked up 31 wickets in his last four championship appearances for David Ripley’s men.

In the 27-year-old’s absence, Northants have added Lee Daggett to a squad which also contains Muhammad Azhar Ullah, who took 3-59 on debut against Hampshire last month.

There is also a place for spinner Graeme White, who has returned to Wantage Road on a month’s loan from Nottinghamshire.

Leicestershire are without seamer Robbie Williams due to an elbow injury and will make late assessments on Joe Burns’ shin problem and on fellow batsman Shiv Thakor, who injured a finger when fielding off his own bowling in yesterday’s Yorkshire Bank 40 game.

Michael Thornely, Rob Taylor, Mathew Hoggard and Alex Wyatt are in a squad alongside the players, bar Williams, who drew with Kent in Leicestershire’s last championship outing.

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