Strength in depth is crucial as Yorkshire aim high

Yorkshire's Richard Pyrah.
Yorkshire's Richard Pyrah.
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ANDREW GALE has revealed how lessons learned during last season’s run-in means no one at Headingley is even talking about a possible title triumph despite Yorkshire sitting joint top of the table.

A resounding innings win over Warwickshire meant the White Rose county took maximum points from this week’s trip to Edgbaston.

Nottinghamshire, following yesterday’s three-wicket victory over Somerset at Trent Bridge, are level on 142 points with Gale’s men. The duo have a 26-point cushion on Somerset in third place, while Durham – who pipped Yorkshire to top spot in 2013 courtesy of a scintillating run-in – are three points further adrift in fourth.

Considering how the North East county overhauled a lead that at one stage stood at 33 points, Gale is taking nothing for granted as his side prepare to take a breather from four-day cricket to play five Twenty20 games inside eight days.

“There is still a long way to go,” said the Yorkshire captain. “We probably got carried away a little bit last year into thinking about the Championship.

“There are still six games left, and I keep hammering home about the basics and process. No one has even spoken about the Championship. We just want to go about our business and win session by session and games of cricket.”

Title talk may be absent from the Headingley dressing room, but there can be no doubting the strength in depth that Yorkshire have at their disposal.

Against Warwickshire, Joe Root, Gary Ballance, Liam Plunkett, Tim Bresnan and Adil Rashid were all missing but Gale’s men made light of their lengthy absentee list to romp to victory inside three days – much to the delight of their captain.

He said: “The lads who have come in such as Karl Carver, Rich Pyrah and Jack Leaning, they are all contributing and doing a job. If we are going to win the Championship, that’s what we need to happen.

“What has changed since I was a young lad is that you are expected to come in and do a job now. The high standards that the team sets, you are not just coming in to find your feet for a few weeks. You are coming in to make a match-winning contribution.

“If you don’t, there is someone else on the conveyor belt waiting to take your spot. That is a great position to be in.

“At the start of the season when you sit down with a squad of players, there are always 10 or 12 lads who are disappointed not to be in that first squad.

“You tell them, ‘At some stage, four or five of you will be needed because it is very much a squad game’. You don’t think you’re getting through to them, but it shows that you do need lads like Rich (Pyrah) to come in and do a job. He is a fantastic lad, he wears his heart on his sleeve, and he gives 110 percent.

“Brezzy’s been carrying an elbow injury for a few weeks. You’re trying to get another week out of him, then another week, but it came to a head where he needed a jab.

“Credit to Rich because, at his age, it is not easy going back to play second team, week in and week out. He has done that since the start of the season and not complained once.

“There was no one-day or Twenty20 cricket, and it can’t be easy playing with a bunch of 18 or 19-year-olds when you are 30 or 31. But he knew that a chance would come, and when it came along he was desperate to take his opportunity.”

Bresnan sat out the Edgbaston victory to undergo an injection in his troublesome elbow and is expected to return against Lancashire as Yorkshire kick off that run of five Twenty20 matches in front of a sold-out Headingley.

Adam Lyth is also a doubt after receiving a bang on the hand against Warwickshire, while Jack Brooks will be rested at some stage in the coming week in an attempt to keep him fresh for the County Championship.

Gale added: “Jack’s hitting a wall now. So, it is the ideal opportunity now to let him put his feet up because he’s going to be a big asset for us in the second half of the year.

“You have seen what he can do. He’s one of those bowlers who in one spell can bowl a bag of rubbish and the next he comes on and gets three wickets in an over. He might play every Championship game from now on in.”