Yorkshire CCC bucking trophy trend as Andrew Gale juggles resources

ANDREW GALE takes his share of stick from keyboard warriors and assorted riff-raff but it is time to give the Yorkshire coach credit.

A place in Division One of the County Championship – thereby affording a crack at the title outright and the Bob Willis Trophy – and a first T20 quarter-final since 2016 represents a good season to date.

Gale now steps aside from his Yorkshire duties until those tournaments resume at the end of next month.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

He is part of Darren Lehmann’s coaching staff for the Northern Superchargers in The Hundred, a move designed to further his experience and to benefit Yorkshire in the long run, with bowling coach Rich Pyrah taking the reins for the Royal London One-Day Cup that is being staged concurrently.

In top form: Yorkshire’s Harry Brook. Pictures: SWPix

Although no-one would pretend that Yorkshire are the finished article, specifically when it comes to their batting performances in the Championship, their togetherness and fighting spirit under Gale is clear and there is the sense of a club moving forward after several years of transition since the glory years under Gale’s captaincy.

We will know more about Yorkshire’s “bench strength”, as it were, when Pyrah is necessarily forced to field a raft of youngsters in the 50-over competition that starts on Thursday, with the club losing an entire XI of players to The Hundred if one includes T20 overseas signing Lockie Ferguson.

But only Gloucestershire, who ironically failed to qualify for Division One, have won as many Championship fixtures this summer as Yorkshire (five), while just fellow top-flight clubs Warwickshire, Somerset and Lancashire can match Yorkshire’s record of just one defeat.

In T20, Yorkshire have won seven out of 13 with five defeats (all of them away) and one no-result, with the club desperate to end what is now a 19-year wait for a white-ball trophy, an unconscionable length of time for a club of Yorkshire’s size and stature.

Joining Darren Lehmann: Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale.

Could it happen this year?

There is no reason why not.

The One-Day Cup is nevertheless a lottery, with Yorkshire having been more badly hit than most in terms of losing players to The Hundred, and T20 only slightly less of a game of chance in terms of which players are available at any given moment.

But Gale has managed his resources well in a tournament in which Yorkshire have used 21 players thus far – almost two full teams – and had three different captains in David Willey (the club’s official T20 leader), Joe Root and Adam Lyth.

At times, it has felt that there have been more ins-and-outs than the Hokey Cokey, with Willey, Root, Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid only available in and around their England commitments.

Indeed, if success is built on continuity of selection, then it is a trend that Yorkshire are doing their utmost to buck.

Bairstow gave the T20 campaign a flying start, playing in the first four games and producing scores of 34, 67, 82 and 112. He got the hundred at Worcester pretty much batting on one leg, after injuring his ankle. He is a ridiculously talented cricketer.

In contrast to the Championship, Yorkshire’s T20 batting has been consistently impressive.

Their totals batting first – if one discounts the 60-3 that they made in the seven-over thrash at Nottinghamshire – read: 240-4, 216-6, 174-6, 191-5, 224-3, 81 and 180-4.

That 81 against Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston can be dismissed as a blip – as incongrous as a ghetto-blaster in a Trappist monastery.

Harry Brook has delivered with the bat throughout the tournament, the 22-year-old having struck 485 runs in 12 innings –half of them unbeaten. Jordan Thompson has produced runs and wickets.

Ferguson – the leading wicket-taker with 14 from ten appearances – has been an inspired signing; it sure helps when you can land a quality overseas player, as Yorkshire did when Mitchell Starc helped them to Finals Day in 2012.

Dom Bess has also had a particulary good competition, marrying wicket-taking facility with miserly economy.

Everyone has chipped in at some point, rising to the challenge of playing in a side that is constantly having to adapt to changing personnel.

Gale has got them gelling and he has got them winning, although he would clearly like to see significant improvement in an away record that offers plenty of scope for it.

All in all, Yorkshire are in a good place, having achieved their first target of qualifying for the top division of the Championship and the T20 knockouts.

Who knows, it might even keep the keyboard warriors and assorted riff-raff quiet for a bit.