New Yorkshire CCC coach Ottis Gibson leaves red-ball door open for Adil Rashid and hopes Gary Ballance will be ready to play soon

Ottis Gibson says the door is open for Adil Rashid to play first-class cricket for Yorkshire again, and that the club are working hard to get Gary Ballance ready for the start of the season, despite missing their pre-season trip to Dubai to protect his mental health.

Ballance has not been on the trip but Rashid has, despite its focus on red-ball cricket, something the World Cup-winning leg-spinner has not played since a Test in early 2019.

Former England batsman Ballance was at the centre of some of the racism allegations from former off-spinner Azeem Rafiq which threw the county into turmoil this winter.

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Even with the new season weeks away there is still an expectation that Ballance might receive a ban over his mistreatment of Rafiq – something he later apologised for – and he asked to sit out the 10-day trip.

Northern Superchargers' Adil Rashid celebrates taking the wicket of Trent Rockets' Joe Root during The Hundred match at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. Picture date: Monday July 26, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story CRICKET Hundred. Photo credit should read: Tim Goode/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the ECB. Still image use only. No moving images to emulate broadcast. No removing or obscuring of sponsor logos.

But Gibson plans to speak to him after Yorkshire’s return today and assess if he is ready to feature in the three-day friendlies against Durham and Leeds/Bradford University which are the final games before their April 14 County Championship opener at Bristol.

“He didn’t feel like he was ready to tour,” said Gibson.

“He’s at home trying to look after his health, mentally and physically. He’s still doing his work and trying to get ready for the season.

“When I get back I’ll have another conversation with him and see where he is. We’ve been offering him as much support as we have not only on the mental but the cricket side because we want him to play the season.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 06/06/2019 - Cricket - Specsavers County Championship - Yorkshire County Cricket Club v Essex County Cricket Club - Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds, England - Yorkshire's Gary Ballance hits out against Essex.

“As I sit here now I wouldn’t rule him out of those three-day friendlies.”

Yorkshire played two two-day games against Gloucestershire in Dubai, with new England one-day cap Harry Brook scoring a century in the opener and 21-year-old all-rounder George Hill, who ended last season opening the batting in the Championship, also namechecked for his batting in the second game on a tired pitch. Gibson also revealed a heavy emphasis on fitness.

Rashid’s presence led to some hoping it might be a sign he could finally return to the first-class fold having concentrating on limited-overs cricket because of a shoulder problem. Although Gibson is not expecting to see him in whites any time soon, the door is open.

“I’ve known him since he was 13,” said Gibson, a coach in England’s youth set-up before coming out of retirement to join Durham in 2006.

England's bowling coach Ottis Gibson during a press conference at Lords, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday September 5, 2017. See PA story CRICKET England. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the ECB. Still image use only. No moving images to emulate broadcast. No removing or obscuring of sponsor logos.

“I think we managed to get him to bowl about six balls with a red ball so that’s some progress on that front!

“But he’s really been focusing on his white-ball skills and I’ve tasked him with helping the young spinners we have here – he’s been spending time with the Sullivan brothers (Harry and Josh, both slow left armers) and Jack Shutt.

“We would love to have him and I’ve told him that but he’s made his decision. I’ve told him we would love him to play some red-ball cricket if down the line it’s something he’d like to do. If he wants to restart his red-ball career, playing for us would be the best place to do that.”

There is optimism that Yorkshire will see a fair amount of their England players in early season but Gibson has had no confirmation yet.

The former fast bowler, who has been head coach of West Indies, South Africa and Bangladesh as well as two spells as a bowling coach within England’s senior set-up, is looking forward to his first stint as a county coach and undaunted by the turmoil at Headingley.

“I’ve played cricket all over the world and there was nothing there that scared me and made me think, ‘I don’t want to be involved in that’,” he said. “I actually saw it the other way and thought, ‘This will be a great thing to get involved in and help build back this great club’.”