JASON GILLESPIE has hailed captain marvel Andrew Gale and believes he is batting as well as ever after his lengthy ban.
The Yorkshire first-team coach feels Gale has carried on from where he left off after he was suspended for the final two games of last season and the first two games of the current campaign.
Gale was hit hard by the England and Wales Cricket Board for a verbal spat with Lancashire’s Ashwell Prince and banned from lifting the Championship trophy.
It was a PR disaster and smacked of payback by the ECB after they failed to make stick charges of racism against the Yorkshireman for his comments towards Prince, a black South African, which were colourful rather than colour-related.
Gale has missed a lot of cricket since the incident at Old Trafford last August but he has not allowed it to affect his game.
Although he missed out on his return to Championship action against Nottinghamshire, scoring 13 in his solitary innings at Trent Bridge, Gale showed he is still in the groove with 96 against Warwickshire at Headingley last week.
It was a typically fighting innings that not only helped Yorkshire save the follow-on but also inspired a turnaround that almost engineered an improbable win for his side.
For Gillespie, whose team return to Championship action against Hampshire at Headingley on Sunday, it proved that Gale is still at the top of his game after a difficult period for player and club.
“Galey is batting as well as ever and it’s just great to have him back after this whole debacle,” said Gillespie, the former Australia fast bowler.
“It hasn’t been easy for him, but he’s got on with the job and put it behind him.
“That knock of 96 was brilliant; that’s as good as you’ll see him bat, I think.
“He was fantastic and he stepped up as captain when the heat was on.”
Gale prides himself on leading from the front and is invariably at his most obdurate in tough situations.
The heat was most definitely on when Yorkshire slipped to 88-3 and later to 224-7 in pursuit of 286 to avoid the follow-on against Warwickshire, but Gale had helped get them up to 303 by the time he was last out, caught at cover off a full toss from pace bowler Boyd Rankin that was above waist height and should therefore have been signalled a no-ball.
“Galey is often at his best in that type of situation and seems to thrive on that sort of pressure,” added Gillespie.
“He’s got a lot of fight in him and he showed that once again last week.
“Batting is always a bit of a work in progress and he’s been working incredibly hard on his game behind the scenes.
“He’s playing the pull shot well, driving down the ground well, and everything looks in excellent order.”
Gale, who has reverted back to his original technique after some winter tinkering, says he feels in decent fettle.
“I definitely felt back in the groove against Warwickshire,” he said.
“We were behind the eight-ball a bit and it needed me to stand up and bat throughout the innings, and I was pretty happy with the way I went about things overall.
“I missed out in the game at Notts, only getting one knock, but I felt good in a second team game I played just prior to that.
“Fingers crossed, I can keep it going and continue to play my part for the team.”