Andrew Gale: Tinkering with the championship would not be good for the game

THERE has been talk of possibly reducing the number of championship games from 16 to 14 and while the overall schedule does need fewer games, I’d hate to think it comes at the expense of the County Championship.

Gary Ballance.
Gary Ballance.

I think 16 games and a symmetrical competition works really well.

You look around the county game now and we are producing some of the best young players in the world and county cricket is so strong.

I’d be disappointed to see it changed to 14 or even 12 games. I think where they need to reduce the games from is maybe the 50-over competition and make that more of a knock-out and then have the Twenty20 stuff in more of a block.

Onto this week’s action and the rain frustrated us at Sussex in the week in the County Championship and we couldn’t get another win. But it was still a good, solid draw.

I did feel Sussex were pretty negative with the way they went about things and produced a pretty flat pitch. They had the heavy roller available and I thought that they might have pulled out when they got to 400 when batting.

But that is the way that teams are going to play against a team who have just won six on the bounce. They didn’t want to lose, so I could understand why they did it.

We will take the draw. The pitch was pretty flat as soon as the heavy roller came on it and we take the draw and move on.

It was good to see Gary Ballance score a big hundred and I was really pleased for Gaz as he has had a tough time of it for the past month or so.

He needed a score really to show people he was back and he played an exceptional innings for us and the partnership he had with Tim Bresnan down the order really gave us that platform.

Let’s hope he can go from strength to strength for the rest of the season.

We face Somerset at home in a four-dayer starting on Tuesday and it is that time of the season now where every game becomes a big game.

Every session is an event, I guess. We at Yorkshire have got to make sure we are really switched on and don’t get too ahead of ourselves and we just keep hammering the processes that have got us into this situation.

I didn’t play in the Royal London One-Day Cup quarter-final success against Essex at Chelmsford on Thursday, but I watched the back end of the game and thought that the lads were outstanding.

I missed the batting performance, but from what I can gather, Liam Plunkett played really well to get us to 250.

To defend our total after they were 80 or 90-odd for one was a fabulous effort and showed the mental strength of the team really.

Essex have made Chelmsford a bit of a fortress in one-day cricket over the past ten years and we also have not had that much success down there.

So to come away with a win and get into the semi-finals was fantastic for the lads.

Liam obviously showed himself with the bat and when we signed him, we knew he was a good all-round player.

I think he’s gone from strength to strength since we signed him and he’s someone I have known well for a number of years.

I played in the England under-19s with him and he had a great start to his career at Durham and then for whatever reason, fell away.

He was someone who I kept in contact with and pushed to get him back at the club. Martyn Moxon also knew a lot about him having had him at Durham as well.

Liam is bowling at the speed of light at the minute too and in good nick with his fitness and is full of confidence.

I am sure he will have a big impact on the one-day international series.

The Ashes is now over and in my eyes, it was a really bizarre series.

For the neutral, I guess it was not that good a series to watch as one team hammered the other or vice versa. That is just the way that the series went.

But overall, I was pleased for England after all the stick they have had over the past year or so.

I was chuffed for Alastair Cook in particular as he has been on a bit of a roller-coaster over the last couple of years.

It just shows how strong he is mentally to come back from that in the way he has done and lead the team to an Ashes win.

***Andrew Gale’s column is in association with Blacks Solicitors***