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High hopes for Roses rivals

Posted in Domestic Cricket

Jacques Rudolph

Jacques Rudolph's return provides Yorkshire with a boost ahead of their Roses meeting with Lancashire

Any Roses match is always sure to provoke excitement on either side of the Pennines, but supporters of Yorkshire and Lancashire have particular reason to look forward to the LV= County Championship clash at Headingley Carnegie, which starts tomorrow.

At first glance, Lancashire have the more obvious reasons to be cheerful.

Although they were beaten by leaders Durham in their last outing, Peter Moores’ side have won six of their nine four-day matches and remain firmly in the hunt to claim the championship crown outright for the first time since 1934.

Lancashire also recorded a dramatic six-wicket victory over Yorkshire when the two teams met at Aigburth in May and are set to be boosted by the return of skipper Glen Chapple, who has recovered from a trapped nerve in his neck.

However, it is the reappearance of another proven performer that is causing great excitement in the White Rose county.

After leaving Yorkshire at the end of last season for family reasons, Jacques Rudolph has agreed to rejoin the club as an overseas player for the remainder of the summer.

In his four years as a Kolpak player at Headingley, the South African left-hander amassed 8,629 runs in all competitions and his consistent contributions in the middle order helped Andrew Gale’s men finish third in the championship last term.

By contrast, Yorkshire have won just two Division One games in 2011, although one of their successes came last week at Scarborough as they saw off fellow strugglers Worcestershire by six wickets.

That victory prompted director of cricket Martyn Moxon to suggest a top-three finish was still within the reach of his team, who currently lie third from bottom.

One can only assume the imminent arrival of Rudolph, who is set to fly in this week, was a major factor in his optimism.

“Jacques is a hugely respected and popular player and we have missed his contribution in all forms of the game,” said Moxon when news of the signing was announced last month.

“The entire club is very pleased to welcome him back and we look forward to his runs lifting the team in the remaining matches.”

While Yorkshire may be in need of a boost, their greatest rivals will simply hope for more of the same this week.

Lancashire’s success to date has been built on contributions from throughout the squad, with Gary Keedy their only representative in the top 15 wicket-takers in the country and Paul Horton the solitary member of the team to have passed 500 championship runs.

Homegrown players such as Karl Brown and Kyle Hogg have also played notable roles at various points and the club will be hoping they impress in the absence of Farveez Maharoof, who has returned to his native Sri Lanka.

Durham’s recent victory at Aigburth reaffirmed their status as title favourites, but Lancashire have already shown their ability to exceed expectations.

Should they complete a notable Roses double, the excitement among their fans is only likely to grow as the season moves towards its conclusion.

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