Durham v Yorkshire: Gale calling for a new knockout format to include village sides

UP FOR THE CUP: Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale believes an FA Cup-style competition would be good for cricket.Picture: Steve Riding
UP FOR THE CUP: Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale believes an FA Cup-style competition would be good for cricket.Picture: Steve Riding
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YORKSHIRE captain Andrew Gale wants an ‘FA Cup’ of 50-over cricket.

Gale believes it could replace the existing format of the Royal London Cup.

Gale’s idea is for a knockout tournament possibly including the country’s top club teams.

He feels it would have the added benefit of easing the schedule of playing and travelling, with counties playing eight group matches in the Royal London Cup prior to the knockout stages.

“I wouldn’t mind a knockout competition like the FA Cup,” said Gale, whose side are currently in a sapping sequence of seven 50-over games in 11 days.

“Lose in the first round and you’re out, just like the old NatWest Trophy.

“You could draw teams out of a hat, and it would be nice to have a few club sides in it.

“That would create more interest, as well as clear the schedule if there’s a knockout element.”

Gale’s former Yorkshire team-mate Michael Vaughan has suggested something similar for T20 cricket.

Gale would prefer to see it for 50-overs, but accepts there are no easy answers.

“I guess it all boils down to the schedule,” he said. “It’s a hot topic every year, but it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

“The ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) want the eight 50-over group games because there’s a World Cup in 2019, and they want players to get experience.

“But that’s no good for the likes of me.”

Gale started his career with the Bradford League club Cleckheaton and is passionate about cricket at all levels.

He believes a club competition could be an entry route to the 50-over ‘FA Cup’.

“Imagine if you had, say, a club knockout which started now to gain a place in the main competition in two years,” he added.

“You could have four or five clubs teams going through, or whatever the number might be.

“Just imagine if a county rocked up at somewhere like Cleckheaton on a little green seamer.

“They’d be thinking, ‘We’re not sure about this’, and it would bring in the crowds and create some interest.”

Whether Gale’s idea ever cottons on remains to be seen, but his side are not doing badly in the current format.

Yorkshire embark on the second half of their Royal London Cup group campaign tomorrow when they face Durham at Chester-le-Street (10.30 start).

They go into the game on the back of a thumping 133-run win over Worcestershire in which they made 345-6 – the club’s joint third-highest total in one-day cricket.

It followed a no-result in their opening match against Gloucestershire at Scarborough, a seven-run win away to Derbyshire, and a six-run defeat against Surrey at The Oval.

“We’ve had a decent start overall, and there’s no reason why we can’t qualify,” said Gale, whose side conclude their group campaign with games against Leicestershire at Headingley on Monday, Somerset at Scarborough on Wednesday and Northants at Headingley on August 18.

“I thought we got out of jail against Gloucester a little bit because we didn’t bat that well before the rain came.

“I thought we could maybe have rolled them over, but we were under par with the bat.

“At Derby, we were probably about 70 per cent of where we wanted to be but got the win; against Surrey, I thought we played quite well but couldn’t finish things off, and then we played really well at Worcester.”

Gale, who missed the Worcester game with a wrist injury but who will return to action at the Scarborough Festival, has clocked up plenty of miles with his team-mates this week.

Yorkshire played in Scarborough, Derby, London and Worcester in the space of five days – travelling more than 600 miles.

“It’s been tough as you don’t get the opportunities to rest and recover,” he said.

“You hear these football managers complain about their schedule and all that sort of stuff, but they’re not playing seven games in 11 days.

“We’re quite lucky, however, as we travel on a coach. I remember when I first started, we’d play down at Sussex and finish a game on a Sunday night, say, travel back and play the next day.

“Some of the travelling I did when I was in between the second team and the first team was ridiculous; no wonder the insurance was through the roof on cars!

“It’s not ideal, and we certainly don’t use it as an excuse as it’s the same for everyone. At the same time, you can’t put your best team out consistently and you can’t be at your best if you play every day.

“Some fatigue, mentally or physically, has got to be there, and surely there’s a better way of doing things with the schedule.”

Yorkshire president Dickie Bird will officially unveil his new players’ balcony during the interval of the Leicestershire game on Monday.

Yorkshire squad v Durham (from): Lees, Hodd, Maxwell, Ballance, Leaning, Rhodes, Rashid, Plunkett, Patterson, Carver, Brooks, Fisher, Bresnan.