York Cricket Club turn to Liam McKendry as Ilka returns home

OPENING PROSPECT: Liam McKendry is expected to be at the head of the York innings

OPENING PROSPECT: Liam McKendry is expected to be at the head of the York innings

First published in Sport

YORK CRICKET CLUB must find yet another opening batsman after overseas star Travis Ilka returned home to Australia.

The Antipodean, who took over the duties at the top of the order following Jack Leaning's elevation into Yorkshire's LV= County Championship side, has been forced to return to the southern hemisphere because of family issues.

Captain Dan Woods, whose side entertain Barnsley tomorrow in the Solly Sports Yorkshire ECB County Premier League, said Ilka would be gone for the rest of the campaign.

"Very sadly he has had to go home," he said. "He has a two-year visa and, hopefully, he will be back next year. We have certainly lost him for the rest of the season."

Ilka's departure is likely to see Liam McKendry partner Simon Lambert at the head of York's batting. Richard Love will bat at six and Gareth Fenton will come into the side from the second team.

The Clifton Parkers will also be without Jonny Moxon for an extended period after the bowler suffered a back spasm and was unable to complete an over during last weekend's victory over Sheffield Collegiate.

Woods believes York were fortunate to come out on top in that game, which saw them prevail only after the Abbeydale hosts lost their last five wickets for 19 runs.

Having similarly struggled against Castleford, he believes the grit his men are showing in finding a way to win could prove crucial as they hunt an eighth successive league crown.

He added: "Winning does become a habit. We have managed to win games from losing situations and that we can show the grit and determination to do that is very positive without a doubt."

Barnsley were once York's main barrier to winning the league but the South Yorkshire outfit have been surpassed in recent years by Harrogate and Yorkshire Academy and are currently sixth in the table.

Woods, however, knows they will pose a stiff test for his side.

"They will be desperate to beat us," he said. "I still think they are a good side. They haven't been as high in the league as they were a few years ago when Gary Ballance was playing for them but it will be a good game.

"It is tight at the top of the table and there is no real room to slip up. We have to take each game as it is. The Academy are very, very strong. Harrogate are still up there and they are going to be pushing right to the end.

"I think it is going to go right down to the wire. Anyone can beat anyone."

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