IT has been a productive winter for Yorkshire all-rounder Matthew Waite - and he is hoping for more of the same when the season soon starts.

Waite, 23, says a winter of grade cricket in Sydney has been good for him on and off the field, and he was arguably the standout performer on Yorkshire’s recent pre-season camp in Potchefstroom.

He is almost certain to face Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities in the three-day first-class fixture at Weetwood from Sunday (11am). And a place in the team against Nottinghamshire (April 5) at Trent Bridge in the opening Specsavers County Championship match could follow, especially with Tim Bresnan still about a fortnight from full fitness.

Waite - a former York as well as the Yorkshire Academy player - has not begun a campaign in the first team before.

“Joe Root won’t be available, but we will be as close to our starting 11 as we can,” said coach Andrew Gale of the University match.

“The lads have come back from South Africa in good form. I want them to come out of that game full of confidence. We won’t be treating it light-heartedly, that’s for sure.”

Waite, Yorkshire’s Young Player of the Year in 2016, impressed with bat and ball in South Africa, even opening the bowling in both red and white ball matches.

“I wasn’t expecting it, but I’ve done it quite a lot in the Academy and for the second team,” he said. “We were happy with how it went.

“I don’t think I’ll really do it in the season with Duanne Olivier and Ben Coad there. But it’s another option.

“It’s an advantage if it’s swinging, and I’d be comfortable doing it.”

Ironically, Waite’s winter started as the seventh bowler used by Sydney side Bankstown.

“They like to back their own lads over there, which is not a bad thing,” he explained. “I’d have liked to have bowled a bit more before Christmas, but I ended up opening the bowling afterwards.

“Bowling over a continued period has helped. I’ve just got to keep that rhythm going.

“Sydney was big for me. I loved it. Being outdoors all winter probably made it easier for me to hit the ground running than a few of the other Yorkshire lads who had been indoors.

“Lifestyle-wise, it was important - cooking for yourself, things like that. Cricket-wise, it was a really good standard and you had to be at your best to compete.”

Since making his Yorkshire debut in 2014, Waite’s first-team appearances have been limited, with injuries playing their part. He missed the second half of 2017 following ankle surgery and also missed the start of last season.

But he impressed in three Championship matches last September, including the high-scoring draw at Notts.

“I’m of a good age now at 23,” he said. “I’ve had a taste of it all before and have done quite well. I’ve been a bit unlucky with injuries, but hopefully they’re behind me and I can have a really good season.

“To get the nod first game would fill me with confidence as that’s never happened before.”

As Waite says, Coad and Olivier are likely to share the new ball for the majority of the summer. But Waite would not shy away from the job if called upon, and his natural ability to swing the ball away from the right-hander is an advantage: “I’ve also been working with Rich (Pyrah) on a ball which comes back in,” he added.

Meanwhile, left-arm spinner James Logan has been told he requires surgery on the broken thumb he suffered in Potchefstroom.

While last season’s clash with Leeds/Bradford was washed out, Yorkshire won by an innings in 2017.