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Yorkshire Cricket Club history on Champions horizon
Yorkshire want to become the first English winners, and possibly the last, of the Champions League t20 competition.
The county’s 15-man squad fly out to South Africa on Tuesday ahead of their two-match qualifying campaign, starting a week later.
Yorkshire travel as outsiders for the title and with no pressure on them, but that does not prevent them from aiming high.
Two wins from their two Pool Two qualifiers against Uva Next and Trinidad and Tobago will see them qualify into group ‘B’ of the main draw alongside Mitchell Starc’s Sydney Sixers, Mumbai Indians, Highveld Lions and Chennai Super Kings.
Somerset made it to the semi-finals in India last year, but Yorkshire and Hampshire have the chance to go one better this month.
And with English counties set to opt out of the competition next year in favour of extending the domestic season, the pair will want to go out with a bang.
“There is a desire to do well in the competition,” said director of professional cricket Martyn Moxon, whose side will play their qualifiers at Johannesburg and Centurion. “We want to go out there and win it.
“At the same time, if we can qualify into the competition proper that will be seen as an achievement in itself.”
Qualifying for the group stages would guarantee Yorkshire a minimum of US$200,000, while the winners bank $2.5 million.
Yorkshire’s first match in group ‘B’ would be against Sydney in Cape Town on October 16, setting up a reunion with their overseas star Starc, the Australian left-arm quick who took 21 wickets in the Friends Life t20.
“It would be good to catch up with him because he was a very popular member of the team who did brilliantly for us,” said Moxon.
“It would be great for us to play against him.
“He’s a quality bowler. He’s got pace and bowled brilliantly at the death.
“His bowling was a massive part of our success. We’d have to be at our best to combat him.”
The World Twenty20 could have a big influence on the availability of players for the qualifiers. If England reach the final on October 7 in Colombo, for example, it is doubtful whether York-based Jonny Bairstow would be available for matches in South Africa two and three days later.
But Uva Next and Trinidad and Tobago are in the same boat, while the latter have been significantly weakened with Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine opting to play for the Indian Premier League teams instead.
While names such as Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis and former Yorkshire favourite Jacques Rudolph will all be in action, there is extra English interest in the form of Kevin Pietersen’s participation for the Delhi Daredevils.
Banished from the England set-up, the Champions League provides the Surrey batsman with his first opportunity to show the selectors just what they are missing.
Yorkshire’s CLt20 squad: Gale, Ashraf, Bairstow, Ballance, Hannon-Dalby, Hodgson, Jaques, Lyth, Miller, Rafiq, Rashid, Root, Patterson, Sidebottom, Wardlaw.
• Yorkshire will continue their close season recruitment drive by adding Durham fast bowler Liam Plunkett to their squad next week.
The White Rose county are confident they can help the 27-year-old former England seamer rekindle his career after also signing Jack Brooks from Northamptonshire earlier this week.
Injury, loss of form and a drink-driving charge have contributed to a difficult year for the Middlesbrough-born player who played the last of his nine Test matches in 2007. He has also played 29 one-day internationals and one Twenty20 international.
YORKSHIRE’s possible pathway to the final
Andrew Gale’s side are in qualifying pool 2 alongside Uva Next and Trinidad and Tobago.
Only one of the three teams progresses through to the ten-team main competition, which comprises of two groups of five before the semi-finals and then the final on October 29.
Two wins will definitely secure Yorkshire’s place in group ‘B’ of the main event, although one could be enough.
Qualifying pool 1: Auckland Aces, Sialkot Stallions, Hampshire Royals.
Qualifying pool 2: Trinidad and Tobago, Uva Next, Yorkshire Carnegie.
Group ‘A’: Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders, Nashua Titans, Perth Scorchers, QP1
Group ‘B’: Chennai Super Kings, Highveld Lions, Mumbai Indians, Sydney Sixers, QP2.
Qualifying Pool 2: Tuesday 9/10, 12.30pm: Yorkshire v Uva Next – Wanderers, Johannesburg Wednesday 10/10, 3.30pm: Yorkshire v Trinidad and Tobago – Supersport Park, Centurion
Group ‘B’ (following fixtures subject to progression):
Tuesday 16/10, 12.30pm: Yorkshire v Sydney Sixers – Newlands, Cape Town
Thursday 18/10, 4.30pm: Yorkshire v Mumbai Indians – Newlands, Cape Town
Saturday 20/10, 12.30pm: Yorkshire v Highveld Lions – Wanderers, Johannesburg
Monday 22/10, 12.30pm: Yorkshire v Chennai Super Kings – Kingsmead, Durban
Semi-finals and final
Thursday 25/10, 4.30pm: group A1 v group B2 – Kingsmead, Durban
Friday 26/10, 4.30pm: group B1 v group A2 – Supersport Park, Centurion
Sunday 28/10, 3.30pm: TBC v TBC – Wanderers, Johannesburg
All times: BST.
CASH and star names
Champions League t20 prize money
Winner – $2.5 million (£1.54m) Runner-up – $.1.3m (£800,000) Losing semi-finalists – $500,000 (£308,000) Teams finishing fifth-to-tenth – $200,000 (£123,000) Star men: Martin Guptill (Auckland), MS Dhoni (Chennai), Kevin Pietersen (Delhi), Shahid Afridi (Hampshire), Jacques Kallis (Kolkata), Dirk Nannes (Lions), Sachin Tendulkar (Mumbai), Mitchell Marsh (Perth), Rana Naved-ul-Hasan (Sialkot), Mitchell Starc (Sydney), Jacques Rudolph (Titans), Adrian Barath (T&T), Umar Gul (Uva Next), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire).
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