Pink-ball experiment should be given one more chance, says Yorkshire’s Andrew Gale

NOT CONVINCED: Yorkshire director of cricket 
Martyn Moxon and first-team coach Andrew Gale study the pink balls used this week at Headingley against Surrey.Picture: Bruce Rollinson
NOT CONVINCED: Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon and first-team coach Andrew Gale study the pink balls used this week at Headingley against Surrey.Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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YORKSHIRE first-team coach Andrew Gale has admitted that he is no fan of the pink ball and has questioned whether it had any impact on crowd numbers at Headingley.

Gale was cool on the experiment that was trialled during the County Championship match against Surrey, which yesterday ended in a draw.

LIMITED APPEAL: The weather didn't help attract many more fans to County Championship game this week at Headingley. Picture Bruce Rollinson

LIMITED APPEAL: The weather didn't help attract many more fans to County Championship game this week at Headingley. Picture Bruce Rollinson

No play was possible on the final day due to problems with the bowlers’ foot holes at the Kirkstall Lane end after a third-day washout.

Yorkshire finished on 27-1 in reply to Surrey’s 516-7 declared, with Joe Root unbeaten on 12 and thus denied the chance for extra practice ahead of his first Test match as captain against South Africa at Lord’s next week.

Reflecting on the pink ball used in all Championship games this week, to help England players such as Root prepare for the first day/night Test in this country against the West Indies in August, Gale said: “I can’t say I’m a massive fan, to be honest.

“If we’re going to go down that route, it’s got to be for the supporters, to bring more supporters through the gate.

In a way, it’s hard to know if it worked or not, but, on that first day, were there many more supporters here than for a normal Championship game? I don’t think so.

Yorkshire first-team coach, Andrew Gale

“In a way, it’s hard to know if it worked or not, because there wasn’t enough cricket played in our match.

“But, on that first day, were there many more supporters here than for a normal Championship game? I don’t think so.

“I’d maybe give it another go – one more game next year, perhaps, to see if it works – and, if it doesn’t work, put it to bed.”

Gale admitted that one or two Yorkshire fielders struggled to see the ball at times and said he personally found it difficult to pick it up from the sidelines.

Kumar Sangakkara excelled at Headingley against Yorkshire this week, despite the appalling weather.  Picture Bruce Rollinson

Kumar Sangakkara excelled at Headingley against Yorkshire this week, despite the appalling weather. Picture Bruce Rollinson

He revealed that opening batsman Adam Lyth lost it on a couple of occasions while fielding, along with colour-blind captain Gary Ballance.

“The players generally said it was okay, but there were a couple of times when Lythy lost the ball and when Gary lost it at mid-off,” said Gale.

“It was also tough to see it from the sidelines. I couldn’t see where the ball was going when Kumar Sangakkara was whacking it all over, and I kept losing it. The pink ball might be okay in Test cricket, but the question again is: will it make the crowds bigger?

“I don’t know because the Test matches in England tend to fill anyway, so I don’t know if you need to mess with things.”

Yorkshire's first-team coach Andrew Gale (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).

Yorkshire's first-team coach Andrew Gale (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).

Yorkshire practised in the nets on the outfield after play was called off at 3.30pm by umpires Richard Kettleborough and Neil Mallender.

It was a frustrating end to a frustrating match, with conditions at the ground yesterday cloudy, but dry.

“The problem was that the foot hole, the take-off (at the Kirkstall Lane end), was wet,” continued Gale.

“It was decided to cut the wet part out and put some soil down, flatten it and make it hard, but the problem was, as soon as someone landed on it, it just dug it all up again.

“The umpires felt that it was unsafe to try and give it a go, and the decision was made due to the safety of the players.

“I can see why, and I guess the umpires have to think about the safety aspect.”

Although the match was effectively going nowhere, Yorkshire were keen to get on the field to collect some batting points.

They claimed two bowling points in addition to five for the draw, with Surrey claiming 10 points in total.

“We were desperate to get on because our bit (the pitch) was dry, and we wanted to get some batting points,” said Gale.

“It was frustrating, not least because we wanted to use this game to bounce back from the defeat to Middlesex at Lord’s last week.

“In what cricket we did have against Surrey, we didn’t bowl as well as we would have liked on the first day, which was disappointing because one of the positives of our season so far has been the bowling.

“We just couldn’t put the ball in the same area for long enough, and you’ve got to take your hat off to Surrey; I thought they batted well, and Sangakkara was superb.”

Yorkshire will return to Championship action on Monday when they play Somerset at Scarborough.

Ryan Sidebottom is set to return after missing the Surrey match due to fatigue.

Sidebottom’s fellow pace bowler Liam Plunkett could make his first Championship appearance of the season.

With Root and Jonny Bairstow on England duty against South Africa, and possibly Ballance too, Yorkshire could hand a first-team debut to new signing Tom Kohler-Cadmore.

“It will be between Tom and Jack (Leaning), I think, for Joe Root’s place,” said Gale. “We’ll also have to see what happens with Gary when they announce the England squad on Sunday. Hopefully, we’ll have a heads-up on Saturday so we can make some plans for next week.

“I spoke to Ian Dews, the second-team coach, and he said that Tom is batting really well at the minute; he’s in form and looks the full package.”