YORKSHIRE are aiming to crank things up a gear at just the right time when they travel to face fellow high-flyers Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford tomorrow (11am).

The White Rose players and coaches have not hidden away from the fact they have been nowhere near their best this season, despite remaining unbeaten in the County Championship with three wins and three draws.

The 200-run win over Kent at Canterbury last month was their best performance, before hard-fought wins against Sussex at Hove and Northamptonshire at Emerald Headingley.

Those battling qualities have built confidence, but this week will provide them with their biggest test of 2021.

Lancashire are also unbeaten with three wins and three draws, sitting top of Group Three by three points from second-placed Yorkshire.

“You would say that ourselves and Lancashire are probably the two best teams in the group,” said coach Andrew Gale ahead of the Sky Sports televised fixture.

“As I’ve said to the boys, we keep finding a way to get ourselves in winning positions without stringing together anywhere near a perfect performance.

“That’s encouraging, but we can play better.

“It’s going to be a great game of cricket because we’re two evenly matched sides. Two good teams playing with confidence, and it’s a Roses game. That always adds a little bit of extra spice to it.

“Fingers crossed, we can get four days of good weather.”

At the top of Group Three, Lancashire have 101 points from six games, Yorkshire 98 from six, Glamorgan 80 from seven and Northamptonshire 76 from six.

Yorkshire will be without England players Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan and Joe Root, while Lancashire will be without Jimmy Anderson and likely Jos Buttler.

A win for either side would represent a giant step towards a top two finish.

Victory for Lancashire would also be their first in Championship cricket over Yorkshire since 2011 and their first at Old Trafford since 2000, when Sourav Ganguly and Darren Lehmann were the overseas players for the Red and White Rose.

Lancashire completed the double over Yorkshire in 2011, but they are winless in nine four-day games since (Yorkshire five wins and four draws).

That statistic includes last season’s rainy Bob Willis Trophy draw at Emerald Headingley.

“To go over there and win would be brilliant,” said Yorkshire captain Steve Patterson.

“It’s always a good game against Lancashire, but in the context of the season and the league table there will be some added significance to it.

“They’re a good side with some experience and good young players like we have.

“People have asked me in the past, ‘Is the Roses game the one you look forward to the most?’ And I’ve always said, ‘For myself, it’s all about playing against the best teams and trying to win those games. That’s the biggest challenge there is’.

“I love winning any four-day game. But the fact that they’re at the top and we’re second makes it more valuable. It doesn’t make it more valuable because it’s Lancashire, only because they are top at the moment.

“They’re at the top of the table, and we want to be top at the end of the game.”

A daily crowd in the region of 4,000 will be permitted in Manchester, with Patterson adding: “I’m looking forward to it. But the Scarborough one will be even more special because we will have our own crowd back.

“We always get well supported there, and our fans love to watch us against Lancs.

“Hopefully we get some good weather for both games.”

Jonny Tattersall will not be playing for the White Rose this week, as he has joined Gloucestershire on a one-game loan deal.

The wicketkeeper-batsman stepping in for James Bracey, who is in England’s Test Match squad.

The opportunity to play first-class cricket comes at a good time for Tattersall, with the 26-year-old looking to regain some form with the bat.

He will link up with Gloucestershire at the Oval, where they will take on Surrey in their County Championship clash.