JONNY Bairstow will open the batting in his five Vitality Blast appearances for Yorkshire, starting this Thursday at Emerald Headingley.

The England star is available as the Vikings begin their North Group campaign against Birmingham Bears, alongside Dawid Malan and Adil Rashid.

The White Rose county also hope to have Joe Root available at some point during the campaign.

Coach Andrew Gale has opted to break up the regular opening partnership between Adam Lyth and Tom Kohler-Cadmore, with the latter moving down to bat at number four.

New Zealand fast bowler Lockie Ferguson is also set to make his Blast debut against the Bears on Thursday evening (6.30pm).

It is hoped the overseas signing will be available beyond the group stages should the Vikings secure a top four finish in the North Group.

It remains to be seen exactly when Dom Bess will be available having been recalled to England’s squad for the second Test against New Zealand at Edgbaston from Thursday.

But one player who will definitely not face the Bears is fast bowler Matthew Fisher, whose recovery from an abdominal injury is making strides in the right direction.

It is a strong looking squad on paper, and Malan believes seven wins from 14 North Group games would put Yorkshire on course for their maiden title in the Vitality Blast.

The world’s number one T20 batsman will play in the first five games, like Bairstow and Rashid, before England duty and is in a buoyant mood on the back of a majestic 199 in Yorkshire’s County Championship win over Sussex at the weekend.

It was the left-hander’s first county appearance of the summer having only recently returned from Indian Premier League duty with Punjab Kings, for whom he only played once.

“You usually need to win around seven games to qualify, so there’s no need to panic if you don’t get off to a good start,” said the 33-year-old.

“But hopefully myself, Jonny and Rash can put in some match-winning performances for those first five games to get us off to a good start.

“The team we have for the first five games is very strong, not that we don’t have strength when the international stuff starts and lads aren’t available.

“The likes of Jonny and Rash are proven match-winners. And there’s a good feel around the group.

“Missing Dave Willey for the majority of games last year wasn’t ideal for the team’s development. But he looks like he’s going to play all the games.

“That is very important as captain.”

Malan’s first taste of the IPL was mixed.

While he only played one game for Punjab, with their team boasting the likes of Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran, he was able to train a lot and advance his game.

However, having been been in India with England prior to the start of the competition in early April, the former Middlesex captain has admitted to some off-field challenges.

“When you just go to train and not play much, it gives you the chance to speak to different coaches and face different types of bowling,” he said.

“From a learning point of view, that was fantastic.

“It was a long time away in the bubble, and this side of the England tour there I would say I was starting to feel a little bit of bubble fatigue. I found that tough.

“But you go to the IPL to learn. You want to play, obviously, but I still feel like I’ve taken a lot away from that experience.

“I got to work with Andy Flower for five weeks, Anil Kumble and some of the local Indian players, who are fantastic in their own conditions.”

Yorkshire face a Birmingham side who will include West Indian overseas all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite.

They could also field White Rose legend Tim Bresnan, who left Emerald Headingley before the start of last year’s shortened summer.

This would be his first game back on his old stomping ground.

Bresnan still holds the record for Yorkshire’s best ever T20 bowling figures - 6-19 against Lancashire at Headingley in 2017.

“Watch him go and get 5-20. That would be typical,” chuckled coach Andrew Gale. “I won’t be buying him dinner if he does!

“There will be a crowd in, but it’s a pity for Brez that there’s not a full crowd in. I hope he gets a proper send-off because he deserves one.

“He obviously didn’t get that last year when he left us.”