Andrew Gale believes the England and Wales Cricket Board’s granting of extended periods of rest during the next domestic cricket season will help Yorkshire mount a sustained challenge for honours in their 150th season.
The ECB have responded to lobbying from the counties to declutter the summer schedule by extending the season by two weeks to the end of September, with more blocks of rest created for the participating teams.
It means Yorkshire and the other 17 counties will be playing cricket until September 27 next year.
But at least Gale and his men will be better rested during the summer, and fresher for the title push the captain hopes will transpire.
Yorkshire – whose return to Division One begins against Sussex at Headingley Carnegie from April 10-13 – will be inactive for a week in May, and potentially two blocks of five days in August if they fail to qualify for the knockout stages of the Twenty20 competition.
Even if they again reach finals day on August 17, there will be no repeat of the madness of the season just gone, when they had to play a crucial four-day game in the week leading up to their big trophy challenge.
Yorkshire also have a week off at the start of September, which could be extended if they miss out on a place in the CB40 semi-finals.
The news has been welcomed by White Rose captain Gale, who returned to training alongside his team-mates yesterday.
“It’s good that they’ve extended the season by a couple of weeks to give us a bit of a rest in between matches,” said Gale, whose side ceased domestic matters on September 14 this summer.
“It can be tough at times travelling the country. You can be here, there and everywhere and just rocking up playing four-day cricket one day, and T20 the next with no rest time in between.
“So these rest blocks do at least give us a few days in between to recharge the batteries.
“This has been an issue for the last few years and the counties have raised it with the ECB.
“The only thing with it going on until the end of September is that it can get dark quickly at that time of the year. Having said that, it can get quite dark in the middle of August in this country, so you never know. But overall it’s good to see the ECB have taken our advice on board and have responded to what we have said.
“You want players to get the chance to rest because then they produce their best cricket, and that’s what the sport needs and wants to see.”
And Gale is confident that members will see the best of Yorkshire in 2013.
The summer just gone provided a platform on which to build, with their run to the Twenty20 final and subsequent qualification for the Champions League in South Africa dovetailing nicely with their promotion from Division Two at the first attempt.
With renowned bowlers Jack Brooks and Liam Plunkett having swelled their options in attack, Gale is confident they can build on those foundations next summer. And the publication of the fixture list, with its increased recuperation time, only strengthens his confidence.
“I firmly believe when I look at that fixture list we can give it a go,” said Gale.
“And what better time to do it than the 150th anniversary of Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
“Having the first game of the season at home is an advantage; you always want to be starting at home to get out of the traps quickly. Sussex are a good side and it will be a really good test of where we are.
“In truth, every game will be a big test of our credentials. But that’s where we want to be, competing against the best week-in, week-out. That was the aim when we set out at the start of the season just gone.
“As a player it’s quite weird when you look at the fixture list for the first time.
“You only really look at the first couple of fixtures to see who it is you’re playing.
“It’s only when you’re actually in the season, and out on the road travelling to all these great grounds, that you start to look at the fixtures in more detail.
“You look four weeks ahead and plot your season that way. Right now it just looks a blur of cricket.”
The CB40 League begins for Yorkshire with a trip to Colwyn Bay to take on Glamorgan Welsh Dragons on May 5.
The 10 group fixtures in the Friends Life T20 will be played between June 28 and July 28, starting with the visit of Derbyshire Falcons and ending with a trip to Grace Road to take on Leicestershire Foxes.
There is one County Championship game with Derbyshire at Chesterfield sandwiched in between, but otherwise Yorkshire will have time to concentrate on the short format of the game before turning their attentions back to the four-day game.
Scarborough will host 10 days of cricket in 2013.
Nottinghamshire are the visitors to North Marine Road for a Championship game from June 5-8, with Leicestershire Foxes at the seaside the following day for a CB40 encounter.
Durham visit Scarborough twice, in the Twenty20 on June 30 and for a four-day game from August 28-31.
Yorkshire have also squeezed in a ‘friendly’ with relegated Lancashire on April 16-18, although Gale admitted: “There’s no such thing as a friendly against Lancashire.”
Key dates for the 2013 cricket year
April 10-13: Yorkshire begin their Championship season at home against Sussex.
April 16-18: With Lancashire swapping places with Yorkshire, the White Rose host their Division Two Red Rose rivals in a ‘friendly’ three-day game.
May 5: Jason Gillespie’s side visit Glamorgan for their first CB40 game.
May 24-28: Headingley hosts the Investec Test match between England and New Zealand.
June 5-9: Five days of cricket at Scarborough with Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire the visitors.
June 28 to July 28: Yorkshire play 10 Twenty20 games in the space of a month.
August 17: Another trip to T20 finals day?
September 6: Headingley hosts the NatWest one-day international between England and Australia.
September 24-27: Title challenge? If so, Yorkshire will head to the Oval looking to finish the 2013 season on a high.