Surrey v Yorkshire: Andrew Gale aims to make most of enforced break

SO gloomy was the weather in Guildford that the Yorkshire players did not even travel to the ground.

Called up: Jordan Thompson.

“I’ve left the lads at the hotel,” said first-team coach Andrew Gale, speaking in front of the clubhouse while awaiting confirmation that the first day’s play against Surrey had been washed out.

“I think, given the schedule, it’s ‘Have a rest day, lads, because you’ve got a lot of cricket coming up over the next five-to-six weeks.’ Particularly the bowlers, because there’s no indoor nets for them here. There’s a gym at the hotel, and some of them will get through a gym session.

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“The bowlers – especially big Duanne (Olivier) – he’d sleep for 20 hours a day if he could.”

Bed was the place to be – or at least somewhere nice and warm – on a foul day at the Woodbridge Road venue, where play was called off at 1.10pm following an early lunch.

As traffic rumbled along that busy main road, clearly visible behind rows of white deckchairs that cut a forlorn sight in the teeming deluge, it would have been difficult to conceive of a more miserable setting for cricket, with this outground among the least salubrious on the county circuit.

Not only is the ground bordered by that rumbling road, but also by a railway line ferrying passengers to and from London.

A petrol station just across the way completes the picture of urban sprawl.

Of the Yorkshire players resting, relaxing or exercising at the hotel, the England all-rounder David Willey was not among them having remained at home.

“Dave’s not here for family reasons,” said Gale. “I don’t really want to comment any further on that. He’s not injured or anything.

“He might be back next week (against Warwickshire at York); he might not. It’s hard to say with these things.”

Willey, left out of England’s World Cup squad, bowled well against Essex at Emerald Headingley last week and is likely to be replaced once this match starts by Jordan Thompson, the 22-year-old all-rounder who would be making his Championship debut.

“Dave is really his enjoying his cricket,” said Gale. “We saw by his performance last week that we’re going to see the best of David Willey now for Yorkshire.

“He hasn’t been with us for a period of time to make an impact, particularly in red-ball cricket, and we got a glimpse last week of the player that he could be for us if we do have him round for a period of time.

“He’s got a brilliant attitude – to be left out of the World Cup was gutting for the lad, but he came back and fitted straight into our side and got his teeth stuck in; he’s a big character in-and-around the dressing room.”

Thompson, the Leeds-born player who has performed well for the second team, has made one List A and nine T20 appearances. A left-hand batsman and right-arm seamer, he was already in Yorkshire’s squad for this game, with Matthew Fisher added in place of Willey.

The 21-year-old Fisher has yet to feature for the first XI this summer, after breaking his thumb in the close season, which followed on from a back stress fracture.

But he has been building up nicely in the second team, impressing Gale with his performance in one game at Leicester.

“He’s had a long build-up to where we want him to be, and the week before last I saw him bowl at Leicester in the second team, and he was nearly there,” said Gale.

“Then, last week, the feedback I had from the second team was that he was bowling full tilt and was in a good place again. But I don’t want to put too much pressure on him.

“I don’t just want to play him when he’s in okay form, like he is at the minute. I want him to be playing when he’s like, ‘I’m ready, I’m really ready for this’.”

Fisher has had terrible luck with injuries for several years.

“He’s been very unlucky but he’s still only young,” said Gale. “He’s looking at a 15-year career still, potentially, and it’s just about him getting into the team and staying there.

“We’re only about a third of the way into the season, and there’s a hell of a lot of cricket still to be played. With the schedule the way it is, we’re going to need Matthew Fisher at some point for sure, and he’s probably not going to play this game but he might play at York next week.”

Gale was left frustrated by the weather. “It’s frustrating because it’s so tough to win games in three days in first-class cricket, particularly when the pitches are good like they have been at Headingley the past two weeks,” he said.

“They were four-day pitches, and if we’d got four days on them, we’d probably have got a result.

“It may be a little bit different on an outground. The only problem is, we might not start on time (on day two). They haven’t got half-a-million pounds worth of drainage like they have at the main county ground, and the groundstaff can only do their best.”