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Yorkshire aiming high for Champions League shot
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 Pool Two qualifiers against Uva Next and Trinidad & Tobago will earn them a place in 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 time.
And with English counties set to opt out of the competition next year in favour of extending our domestic season, the pair will want to go out with a bang.
“There is a desire to do well in the competition,” said Yorkshire 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 then that will be seen as an achievement in itself.”
Qualifying for the group stages would guarantee Yorkshire a minimum of $200,000, while the winners bank $2.5million.
Yorkshire’s opening 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 bowler who took 21 wickets in the domestic Friends Life T20.
Moxon said: “It would be good to catch up with him because he was a very popular member of the team who did brilliantly for us. 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.”
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 squad: Gale, Ashraf, Bairstow, Ballance, Hannon-Dalby, Hodgson, Jaques, Lyth, Miller, Rafiq, Rashid, Root, Patterson, Sidebottom, Wardlaw.