Yorkshire relaxed in quest for T20 joy, says Gale

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Yorkshire Carnegie captain Andrew Gale believes the side has rarely been better primed to end its long wait for Twenty20 success.

They are just one of three counties in the competition’s nine-year history to never reach Finals Day at Lord’s.

They begin their latest quest when Durham Dynamoes arrive at Headingley this evening with Gale feeling plenty of meaningful training and a relaxed attitude could see fortunes transformed.

“We’ve had a good week’s preparation and are excited by it starting now,” he told the Yorkshire Post.

“Just being able to do that training has been massive. It’s been a while since we’ve had a full week to prepare and the lads need it to get form ready for Twenty20.

“Last year we travelled back from Sussex and the first time we practiced T20 was actually before the game on the day itself.

“It wasn’t ideal as the skills are so different to Championship cricket. It’s important that we’ve had these three or four sessions under our belt and now we’re looking forward to Durham.”

Gale sees no reason why Yorkshire cannot end that duck in the competition and the addition of South African T20 specialist David Miller should enhance their prospects.

The left-hander, 23, may not be a household name but he has garnered a reputation as a big-hitter, something Yorkshire fans could see as he makes his debut tonight.

“David Miller got here on Tuesday and he’s a good lad,” said Gale, about a player who scored 212 runs in 13 Twenty20 games for Durham last year.

“I watched him in the nets and in a match against Cleckheaton on Wednesday and he looks in good nick while he’s had a great IPL (Indian Premier League).

“Mitchell Stark is back too so we’re looking good.

“The way I see it is the pressure is off. Championship cricket is the main thing for us and we want to get promoted.

“But now we’ve got two or three weeks off where we can go enjoy ourselves.”

Though plenty of their players have previously struggled in the shortest format of the game, Gale himself seems to have flourished proving their highest scorer last season averaging 32.15.

Yorkshire also enjoyed success in the pre-season Barbados Twenty20 Cup to give them further confidence and their young squad has certainly improved from that experience in the Caribbean.

“I’ve been on good form over the last few years,” added Gale, who also hit 146 in just 60 balls on his ‘home’ ground at Cleckheaton earlier this week.

“I’ve found a method that works for me and hopefully I can continue that.

“The training helps. You need to be looking to clear the ropes in Twenty20. You’re manufacturing shots off good length balls; the same sort you’d block in the Championship, here you’d look to hit a four or six.

“Getting used to that after Championship cricket is difficult but we’ve been working at it this last week.

“Durham are a good side though with some big hitters. They have Phil Mustard, Ben Stokes and Ian Blackwell while we all know what Herschelle Gibbs can do.”

After joining Yorkshire two years ago, the former South African Test star scored 101 from 53 balls against Northamptonshire to achieve his first century in English Twenty20 cricket.

The 38-year-old has now joined Durham though and makes his debut tonight.

Johann Myburgh, who has previously played for Hampshire, will also make his bow.

The right-handed batsman has been on trial there but has now signed up and is set to feature in Leeds.

Myburgh, 31, has a Twenty20 average of 30 with a top score of 88 and can be utilised as an off-spin option.

“It’s been a great few days with Durham already and I’m looking forward to getting started in the T20,” he said. “I felt in good shape in the warm-up games and scored a few runs so hopefully I can continue to perform well and post some good scores for the team.

“I know Durham has big aspirations in the competition after reaching the quarter-finals last year and I want to be contributing to more success.”

Durham head coach Geoff Cook added: “It’s great to have Johann join us for the duration of the T20 competition.

“He has a great attitude and I was impressed by his performance for us this week, not just with the bat but in the field too.

“With Paul Collingwood injured he is an experienced batsmen to add that extra dimension to our batting line-up and also offers us an extra bowling option.”

The visitors have also included Graham Onions in their 13-man squad, offering a seam option after he returned from England duty.

Yorkshire have named a 14-man squad with Moain Ashraf, Gary Ballance, Gerard Brophy and Phil Jaques all included.

Adam Lyth, Richard Pyrah, Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Ryan Sidebottom and Iain Wardlaw make up the rest of Martyn Moxon’s options.

Yorkshire then host Leicestershire Foxes on Sunday afternoon before heading to Derbyshire Falcons on Monday evening.

dave.craven@ypn.co.uk