YORKSHIRE captain Andrew Gale is preparing to drop himself – just two games into the County Championship season.
England batsman Joe Root is set to return for Yorkshire’s next match against Middlesex at Lord’s on Sunday after seven weeks out with a broken thumb.
It means someone would have to make way for him and Gale –the only Yorkshire batsman not to have scored a half-century so far – admits he is the likeliest candidate.
Speaking after his side’s crushing innings victory over Northamptonshire at Headingley, Gale said: “I’m definitely thinking about it (dropping myself).
“I’m the one that hasn’t got any runs so far, and whether I leave myself out or not is a decision I’ll make with Jason Gillespie (first team coach) and Martyn Moxon (director of cricket).
“Someone’s going to have to miss out and they don’t deserve to, and although my record as captain speaks for itself and my batting as captain, I’m not frightened to leave myself out for the sake of the team.
“I think it would be a brave decision but it would also probably send a good message to the squad that if you’re in the runs, you deserve your place no matter who you are, and the reality is that if we’re going to play in Championship-winning sides, this sort of thing is going to happen.”
Root batted for the first time yesterday since breaking his right thumb during a one-day international against West Indies.
He managed only eight runs on day two of Yorkshire’s second team game against Lancashire at Northop Hall, batting at No3 in what could be a hint as to his likely position for England this summer.
Yorkshire had always earmarked the Middlesex match for Root’s first-team comeback, and while Gale is understandably still feeling his way somewhat, after missing the whole of pre-season with a hip injury, others have prospered.
Openers Adam Lyth and Alex Lees have both scored a first-class hundred, Kane Williamson a half-century, and Gary Ballance – who would take over as captain at Lord’s – two hundreds and a fifty.
“It’s difficult whenever the England boys come back,” said Gale, who hit a match-winning century at Lord’s last summer to help Yorkshire to a 10-wicket triumph.
“The same thing is going to happen again the following week when Bres (Tim Bresnan) comes back into the side and one of the seamers is going to miss out.
“Although I guess it would be nice to rest one or two of the seamers at that point, the fact is that someone’s going to miss out who doesn’t deserve to.
“I’ve only had three knocks this year myself and feel that I’m hitting the ball alright, but that’s the reality of sport sometimes.”
Yorkshire will assess Root after the second team game before making a final decision on his fitness for Lord’s.
Bresnan is set to play in a three-day second-team friendly against Lancashire at Headingley from Monday before returning for the Championship match at Durham on May 4, a game for which Jonny Bairstow could now be available.
Bairstow broke his left ring finger during a practice match against Northamptonshire earlier this month, an injury that had been expected to keep him out until mid-late May.
But a new scan has revealed he is making good progress, meaning Yorkshire could potentially soon have all of their England players available.
“Joe is probably going to play two or three Championship games now,” said Gale.
“He’s okay batting with the thumb; it’s just his fielding if a high ball goes up and whether he’s confident enough to take it, and we’ll see where he’s at after the second team match.
“Jonny is coming along nicely, while Bres hasn’t bowled many overs lately – even in the World Twenty20 – so we need to make sure that when he comes back in, he’s hitting his straps.
“We don’t just want to throw him in because he’s an England player; he’s got to come in and do the job that everyone else has done.”
Ballance has already led Yorkshire this season in their opening first-class game against Leeds-Bradford MCCU, when Gale had yet to recover from injury.
Yorkshire do not have an official vice-captain but Gale believes Ballance would be a good stand-in.
“Gary will take the reins when I’m not there and he’s got a good cricket brain,” said Gale. “As long as it doesn’t burden his batting, that’s the main thing because he’s obviously in a position where he wants to push for international honours.
“I would hate to think that the captaincy was a burden for him and got in the way of him doing that. If I do decide to leave myself out, I’d certainly back him to do a good job.”
Match report and scorecards: Page 21.