Yorkshire look to McGrath as Durham clash looms

After two rounds of Twenty20 matches Yorkshire and Durham found themselves in the bottom two places in the Friends Life northern group, giving them more reason to look ahead to their County Championship clash at Chester-le-Street, starting on June 18.

Durham hope finally to be able to reunite Steve Harmison and Graham Onions then, but the match will probably come too soon for Tim Bresnan, who could be vital to Yorkshire’s hopes of a renaissance in the second half of the season.

Although he is back in the nets, he was ruled out for four to six weeks by his calf injury on May 17 and as the same problem cut short his winter with England he will not be rushed back.

As leaders Durham have won their last three Championship games by an innings, the trip to face them is a daunting prospect for Yorkshire as they struggle to climb away from the wrong end of the table.

What they desperately need is a return to form for Anthony McGrath, who can take heart from his recent record at the Riverside ground.

Last year he scored 124 not out in a total of 255, which proved enough for a first innings lead of 42 on a tricky pitch and Yorkshire went on to win by four wickets.

The 35-year-old batsman’s summer has been interrupted by knee and back injuries, which have forced him to miss four Championship and four Clydesdale Bank 40 matches.

He underwent surgery on his left knee in March and missed the opening victory at Worcester, but after returning for the next two games he suffered sciatic pain, which was diagnosed as a knock-on effect from the knee problem. He described it as the worst pain he had experienced, but now says: “I’m feeling better with each innings.”

His innings of 44 in the last Championship match at Hove was his best of the season to date and he said: “I’m starting to feel more like my old self at the crease. I missed the latter stages of pre-season, which means you’re playing catch-up once the season starts.

“But the injury seems to be getting better and I’m hoping that by the time the Championship starts again, having got some Twenty20s under my belt, I should be in full swing.”

McGrath’s absence has contributed to Yorkshire’s inability to field a settled side, with Bresnan, Gerard Brophy, Rich Pyrah, Joe Sayers and Ajmal Shahzad also injured at some stage.

Pyrah’s injury was particularly untimely, just when he had established himself as a fixture in the side in all forms of the game. But he is now fit again, while Sayers has been proving his versatility with quick runs in Twenty20 second team games.

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