ANDREW GALE has handed Yorkshire a major boost on the eve of the new County Championship season by declaring himself fit for the opening match at Somerset on Sunday.
The Yorkshire captain has come through a series of fitness tests on the hip injury that prevented him from playing competitive cricket during pre-season.
Gale spent the early part of the week training in Northampton, where Yorkshire took part in a three-day practice match at Wantage Road before returning home for an outdoor net at Headingley yesterday.
The 30-year-old treated the net like a proper match, with plenty of strenuous running between the wickets, and is raring to go for the game in Taunton.
“I’m ready to go and I can’t wait for the weekend,” said Gale, who led from the front last summer with 1,067 Championship runs at 44.45. “I spent the early part of the week at Wantage Road and took part in some of the fielding drills there.
“I then had a net at Headingley and came through that without any problems. I had a few boxes to tick in terms of running between the wickets, and so on, and it went really well.”
Gale is relishing the trip to Taunton and has stressed the importance of starting well.
Last year, Yorkshire did not do that, losing their opening game against Sussex by an innings.
“We didn’t start as well as we would have liked last season and, hopefully, we can get out of the blocks on Sunday,” he said.
“There are always a lot of results around in April and our immediate aim is to start positively and try to get two or three wins on the board before mid-May.
“Taunton is always a tough place to go. Somerset didn’t have a good season last year and performed well under par for the team that they’ve got, and they’ve changed the personnel around and will have something to prove to their supporters and the wider cricket community.
“I would imagine this time of year there will be a little bit in the pitch and hopefully, through our attack, we can take advantage of that and come away with a result.”
Gale’s return to fitness comes 24 hours after Yorkshire were dealt a blow with the news that wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow has broken his left ring finger, an injury set to rule him out for up to six weeks. Andrew Hodd will take the gloves at Taunton.
After scoring 316 in reply to Northamptonshire’s 283-5 declared on day two at Wantage Road, the final day yesterday saw both teams face a minimum of 40 overs.
The home side made 176-5 to leave Yorkshire chasing 144 for victory, Kane Williamson striking 90 as the visitors batted on to reach 160-5 before stumps were drawn.
Yorkshire team versus Somerset: Lyth, Lees, Williamson, Gale (captain), Ballance, Rashid, Hodd, Plunkett, Sidebottom, Patterson, Brooks. 12th man Ashraf.