Video: Yorkshire captain Gale on brink of uplifting moment

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IT was on the corresponding Friday last year that Andrew Gale was banned by the England and Wales Cricket Board from lifting the County Championship trophy at Trent Bridge in a decision that rather summed up the reign of former chairman Giles Clarke.

But today or tomorrow, the Yorkshire captain will right the wrongs of 12 months ago when he holds aloft the coveted silverware in the ECB’s back garden, with the Championship having been officially retained on the opening day here.

Yorkshire's Jack Brooks closes his hands around the ball to accept a return catch off his bowling from Middlesex's Neil Dexter (Picture: Tony Johnson).

Yorkshire's Jack Brooks closes his hands around the ball to accept a return catch off his bowling from Middlesex's Neil Dexter (Picture: Tony Johnson).

Middlesex go into the third day on 274-5 in their second innings, a lead of 81, after Yorkshire scored 299 in reply to the home side’s first innings 106.

Although it is possible that the hosts could still win, Yorkshire remain the likeliest to achieve a victory that would see them set a new First Division points record of 262, eclipsing Sussex’s 257 in 2003 with two games to play.

Gale, who has already spoken of his desire to make this a record-breaking season, with Yorkshire also having Somerset’s overall points record of 266 in Division Two in 2007 next in their sights, has been motivated all summer by a sense of injustice.

Amid suggestions that he racially abused the Lancashire batsman Ashwell Prince during last year’s Roses game at Old Trafford, suggestions that were proven to have no substance, Gale stands on the brink of a personally gratifying moment.

Last year, it was Joe Root’s face in the official team photographs, with the England batsman deputising as captain while Gale was suspended.

This time, it will be Gale’s visage on the trophy-winning snaps, and an unhappy chapter can finally be put to bed.

Gale would clearly love to be pictured after yet another win, which would be Yorkshire’s 10th of the season, their eighth in the last nine games and leave them needing just one more from their final two matches, away to Hampshire and at home to Sussex, to set a new record too for the most victories since the move to two-divisional cricket 15 years ago.

Of course, strange things can happen at the home of cricket – last year, Middlesex famously knocked off 472 to inflict only the third defeat suffered by Yorkshire in the near-four seasons under first-team coach Jason Gillespie.

But Yorkshire are favourites on a pitch which, true to form, has flattened out appreciably after 19 wickets tumbled on the opening day.

Yesterday, only six went down and none for an hour as Jack Brooks and Ryan Sidebottom continued their last-wicket partnership.

That stand might have been broken from the fifth ball of the day, and after no addition to the overnight total of 238-9, but Brooks, on 12, was dropped low in the gully by Nick Compton off Toby Roland-Jones.

Amid glorious sunshine, and with only a brisk wind taking the edge off unseasonably warm temperatures, Brooks and Sidebottom flourished in the easing conditions.

They raised a fifty stand from 85 balls and had advanced to 78 by the time Sidebottom popped back a return catch to Tim Murtagh.

Brooks finished unbeaten on 50 from 69 balls with 10 fours, his maiden half-century for Yorkshire.

The pace bowler had two previous fifties to his credit – 53 not out for England Lions against South Africa A at Paarl in January, and 53 for Northamptonshire against Gloucestershire at Bristol in 2010.

Brooks and Sidebottom were straight back in action when Middlesex began their second innings, but neither managed a breakthrough in their opening spell.

The hosts lunched on 50-0 from 14 overs, eating into a deficit which, at that stage, stood at 143.

Everything was going well for the home side until they lost 3-0 in 12 balls with the score on 87.

Tim Bresnan bowled Sam Robson for 53, the former England opener playing nicely in a 76-ball innings that included nine fours, before spinner James Middlebrook struck twice in four balls.

Bowling from the Pavilion End, Middlebrook bowled Paul Stirling and trapped Dawid Malan lbw for a third-ball duck. It has not been the best of games for Malan, whom Sidebottom bowled for a golden duck in the first innings –- the last of three wickets in a remarkable opening over of the match.

After Compton and Stevie Eskinazi added 41, Yorkshire took two more wickets in the run-up to tea.

Steve Patterson produced a jaffa to uproot Eskinazi’s off stump, and Brooks dived to his right to catch Neil Dexter off his own bowling.

At tea, the hosts were 143-5, 50 runs adrift, and a two-day finish was still not out of the question.

But Compton and James Franklin batted throughout the final session, adding an unbroken 131, with Compton ending on 86 from 160 balls with 11 fours and Franklin 60 from 97 deliveries with 10 boundaries.

Scoreboard: Page 22.

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