Yorkshire CCC’s Andrew Gale embraces learning process brought on by coronavirus

ANDREW GALE has spoken of his shock at the way that the coronavirus crisis escalated to plunge the domestic season into doubt.

LEARNING TO ADAPT: Yorkshire CCC first-team coach, Andrew Gale. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

The Yorkshire first team coach admitted that he was taken aback by the speed of events.

County cricket is in abeyance until at least August 1, after which it is hoped that an abridged County Championship and T20 Blast will be possible, or else a shortened T20 Blast and 50-over Cup.

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“The unbelievable thing was how quickly it all escalated,” said Gale.

Yorkshire's Dawid Malan has been back in the nets at Headingley this week. Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com

“That’s what I couldn’t get my head around.

“I remember us being sat in the players’ dining room (at Headingley) with all the players, all the medical staff and doctors, the Monday before we left for India on the Wednesday on our pre-season tour (in early March).

“It was basically, ‘You’ve got nothing to worry about, lads. You’ve got more chance of catching malaria when you go to India.’

“So, from spending one night in India and then having to get the next flight back was incredible really.

Emerald Headingley has been one of a number of grounds used by England to get their players back into practice. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“Things escalated so fast, and we pretty much locked down straight after that.”

Gale returned to work on Monday after being placed on furlough along with Yorkshire’s players and most of the club’s staff.

He is helping Yorkshire’s England players get ready for the forthcoming international season, which is due to start with a behind-closed-doors three-Test series against the West Indies early next month.

“I’ve been working with Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan this week and then Adil Rashid and Dave Willey are joining in next week,” he said.

England and Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow has been at Headingley this week. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

“Tom Kohler-Cadmore will be with us the week after that and it’s sort of a steady build-up really.

“Rich Pyrah (coach) will be back helping out next week as well; Kunwar Bansil (physio) is back and Ian Fisher (strength and conditioning coach) is also being taken off furlough.

“I’m hoping that in the next week or two we’ll start to get an idea of what the season might look like, how we can plan for that, when we can bring the players off furlough, and so on.”

Gale believes that cricket could ride on the coattails of other sports such as football, horse racing and snooker. Premier League football is set to resume on June 17 and the second-tier Championship three days later.

INCOMING: Yorkshire's Tom Kohler-Cadmore is expected to join the England training camp at Headingley in the next couple of weeks. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“It’s probably a good thing that football is ahead of us,” said Gale.

“There’ll be momentum generated on the back of that and we can learn from the various protocols in place.

“Likewise, as far as county cricket is concerned, we can learn from international cricket and how they stage that in the coming weeks. Myself being amongst it already (helping to train Yorkshire’s England players), I’m learning as well and sport in general is learning all the time.”

Gale has been encouraged by the relatively low number of positive Covid-19 cases in football and the efforts to make sport safe and secure.

He believes that logistics are the biggest challenge.

“The numbers that are coming back from testing seem to be pretty low in football, which gives you confidence given that football’s a contact game,” he said.

“Cricket, obviously, is a non-contact game, so the hard bit would probably be the logistics of dressing rooms and hotels, lunch and meal times, all that sort of stuff.

“I’d like to think there’s enough room in the grounds to be able to deal with the various issues; at Headingley, for example, you could use the East Stand for one team and the home and away dressing rooms for the other team, which would help to spread people out.

“Also, if there’s Championship cricket, we don’t get crowds of more than 3,000-4,000 anyway, so in a nearly 20,000-seater ground like Headingley you’d like to think that fans might be able to come and watch some cricket in an ideal world.”

Whether guidelines are relaxed sufficiently to allow spectators to attend remains to be seen, with Yorkshire and their county brethren preparing to live-stream fixtures if necessary.

Gale believes supporters would use their commonsense if they are permitted to go along and watch.

“I think people have naturally adapted to the situation,” he added. “People are naturally distancing from each other now; it’s become a bit of the norm, hasn’t it.

“To start with, it was like, ‘Oh, what’s going on here? This is really weird’, with people jumping across the road when you’re walking past them.

“But people have become more relaxed about it, I think, and there seems to be an impetus now to the situation in general with things hopefully beginning to move in the right direction.”

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