Wednesday, 15 September 2010
Andrew Gale's Captain's Blog
Andrew Gale is doing a regular blog with the Yorkshire Evening Post...
ANDREW GALE - WED SEP 15
I was pretty disappointed with Saturday’s defeat to Warwickshire Bears in the CB40 semi-final at Scarborough - I thought we had got enough runs on the board, but didn’t bowl or field well enough.
It was a hard pill to swallow, really. But these things happen and we’ve had to pick ourselves as we are in a great position in the LV= County Championship.
It was tough shaking it off on Monday morning, as it felt like a bit of a hangover and I could sense it was still around a bit with the lads in the dressing room. But we shook things off as soon as it came around to going on the pitch and it was about being positive.
It was the second semi-final I’ve lost with Yorkshire, while I’ve also played in a couple of quarter-finals in Twenty20 cricket. It was hard to take, especially with how well we’ve played in the competition; that made it more disappointing. In the past, we’ve probably scraped through into the quarters and semis and been an outsider. But because we’d played so well, it never really crossed my mind that we wouldn’t get to that Lord’s final.
I won’t be tuning in on Saturday for the final and will instead be watching my beloved Huddersfield Town, who take on Yeovil Town at the Galpharm Stadium..
Looking at over 40-over form as a whole, it’s been a big improvement. We’ve won 10 games out of 13 games and to only lose three games was a great effort and I’m proud of what the lads have achieved. Our one-day cricket has come a long way this year and it had been an area which we hadn’t been particularly good at over the previous three or four years.
But we’re still a work in progress, although the lads have improved fast in that form of the game. If we can keep this squad together for a long period of time, I’m sure we’ll continue to be successful in one-day cricket; there’s no doubt about that.
We’ve got to keep challenging ourselves from now on in to become better players; I know we can win stuff in that format of the game if we get our game right on the day.
IT was great to see Headingley full in England’s second fifty-over one-day international clash with Pakistan on Sunday. I spoke to Bressy (Tim Bresnan) and he said the atmosphere was unbelievable. It’s always nice to see the ground packed to the rafters and good for the club, especially with the bad times we’ve had recently with the crowds.
I’m sure a full ground will help with the finances of the club.
It was obviously a decent win for England in front of a capacity 18,500 crowd with almost 600 runs scored as well on the day. There was a large Pakistani contingent who made themselves heard and it was a competitive game with England only winning with three balls to spare. All in all, it looked a really good day’s cricket.
ANDREW GALE - WED SEP 8
We lost in our final CB40 group game to Essex Eagles on Saturday, having already qualified, but at least it was nice for Jacques Rudolph to reach his milestone and beat Darren Lehmann's haul and become Yorkshire's highest run-scorer in a one-day league season. He's been awesome all year in all forms of cricket. How he keeps churning out the runs I don't know! He's been fantastic.
I put Jacques in the same bracket as Darren and he's certainly got to go down as one of the Yorkshire's greats with the way he's stacked out the runs consistently over the past four years. All of us can take a lot from the way he plays and the hunger that he shows when he's batting. In terms of his future, we're not sure what he's doing yet. We definitely want him to stay next year and the decision will come down to him at the end of the year.
We didn't play well enough on Saturday, but didn't see the game as a 'dead rubber.' We went into the game to win it as we wanted to kick Essex out of the competition – we know how powerful they can be. We lost too many wickets early on, going too hard. We always thought 260 was a par score and went after it, chanced our arm and it didn't come off.
I did like the way Ben Sanderson bowled, though. He impressed me. There was opportunity for Sando and Wainers (David Wainwright) to show what they can do and they both contributed. Because with Bres (Tim Bresnan) unavailable for the semi-finals, one may have to play.
We've been handed a home draw with Warwickshire Bears in the semi at Scarborough on Saturday – and I wasn't too bothered who we drew. They are all good teams at this stage and the pleasing thing is that we've got a home tie.
Warwickshire are a decent side. I think Ian Bell will play, but Jonathan Trott is in the England one-day side, I think. We beat them twice in the County Championship and lost on two occasions in the Twenty20s. I actually only played against them in the first Championship game and they have probably had an up-and-down season.
They haven't done so well in the Championship, although they look like they might be getting out of trouble. They have had a good one-day season.
We'll just concentrate on what we're doing. Tim Bresnan is unavailable due to England duties and it would have been nice if we could have had both him and Ajmal Shahzad there. But that's not going to be possible. Fingers crossed, no-one is going to get injured with England and we can keep Ajmal and we can have him all week. He's a good addition to our side and brings a lot to our bowling attack
ANDREW GALE - WED SEP 1
Looking at what happened at Lord’s on Sunday and if it is the case that (Pakistan) are proved guilty of spot-fixing, then it’s a sad day for cricket. I think this sort of thing has been going on for a while; it might be a good thing that something has actually come to the surface, so things can get sorted out.
Looking from the outset, you can’t point the finger until it’s proven guilty. But it looks pretty black and white from what I’ve seen in the press and it’s disappointing if that’s the case. Reading the article, I was totally stunned really after watching a couple of days of the Test before.
England have played a hard series and fought really well and it sort of undermined the way they have played their cricket. I’ve also seen that the Australians have piped up and said they are disappointed, because it could involve what happened in their series with Australia.
The County Championship title is now a long shot for us after Notts’ win over Lancashire with two games - although unpredictable things happen in sport and you never know.
We were a little bit disappointed in Lancashire’s declaration really to leave Notts just over four an over. But that’s the game and we’ve still got a fighting, if outside chance, of winning it. While there’s a chance, we’ll still be giving it 110 per cent.
We had to settle for a draw with Hampshire at Scarborough after losing the first day to the weather. At the time, I thought we could have done without it, but at the end of the game, it probably saved us really.
Even if we have a good run-in now and finish second, it’s still a great achievement. While we can also win the 40-over competition. I’d like to think that, from the outset, we’ve still had a good season and I’m very proud of what the lads have achieved.
Adam Lyth and Richard Pyrah have now recieved their county caps and I’m really pleased for them. Rich is a very team-orientated lad, who always gives 110 per cent to the cause and is very reliable, especially in one-day cricket. His bowling ensures he is one of the first names on the teamsheet and his fielding is outstanding; he’s one of the best in the country.
Adam’s had a fantastic season and was given the opportunity at the start of it and he’s grasped that with both hands and really made that opening slot at Championship cricket his own. To be the first man in the country to reach 1,000 Championship runs is a great feat for a lad of his age.
Obviously, Adam, Mags (Anthony McGrath) and Jacques Rudolph have all reached four figures and there probably is a bit of competition to see who finishes on top - although none of them will really admit it.
I’m sure they are checking each other’s stats and chasing each other down. And that’s healthy, because it keeps the competition in the team.
ANDREW GALE – WED AUG 18
We are well placed at the top of our Clydesdale Bank Pro40 group after our televised win over Gloucestershire Gladiators and I felt it was an outstanding performance all around.
From a batting point of view, I thought we played exactly to the game plan. We probably got a little bit bogged down in the middle, but the game plan was always to keep wickets in hand for the power play at the end when it comes along. We felt if we'd wickets in hand, we could go really hard at it and that's what we did.
Bowling-wise, we probably bowled a little bit wide early on. But Rich Pyrah was outstanding in those middle overs and the boys at the back end of the power play at the death gave an exhibition of yorkers really. Getting Alex Gidman out for 48 was a big wicket. He's made big runs against us this year and I was pleased to see the back of him.
I got 61 in our innings, but was looking at a hundred and I was a little bit disappointed with the third umpire (for the run-out), to be honest. It was touch and go really. The views I saw on Sky showed there was definite evidence it was clear-cut. But that's the game.
We're back at Scarborough for the Middlesex one-dayer on Sunday and we all love playing there. It's a great place to play cricket and we've got a good record there and everyone knows around the county scene how well we play at Scarborough and we'll be hoping for more of the same with a four-dayer also against Hampshire next week.
You could say it was a strange first day to our Championship game at Durham – with 17 wickets falling in the day. I thought we bowled pretty well, but just dropped too many catches. We've taken chances all year, but we dropped five or six and if we'd caught them, I don't think they would have got 100 and we'd have been well in front.
Then we started our innings, we got a couple of bad decisions, but I guess that's the game.
Durham bowled well, but the main thing was they hung onto their chances. On the first day, they dropped two, we dropped six. We dropped Di Venuto on nine and you can't drop players like that as they don't give two chances.
On the plus side, Ajmal Shahzad bowled really well and what I liked was that he showed a lot of maturity. He didn't just run in and try and bowl as quick as he could. He knew that if he got the ball in pretty good areas, he'd get the best out of the pitch. He just bowled within himself, in good areas, and nice and straight and got his rewards with bowled and lbw's and I was very impressed with him.
The main batting positive was Anthony McGrath passing 1,000 first-class runs. I'm pleased for him, after what went on especially last year when some said he was past it and couldn't handle the captaincy and stuff. He's bounced back from that and shown what a class performer he really is. He's very mentally strong and knows his game inside out.
ANDREW GALE - AUGUST 11
We managed to claim a draw from our big County Championship home game with Notts - and I was really impressed by the character the team showed to fight back in that match.
I said to the lads after the second day: ‘If we can’t win the game, let’s not get beat’ and that’s exactly what they did. We showed how much fight there is in that dressing room and everyone wants to play the game as hard as they can and everyone is playing for each other. We still took positives from that game, even though on the first two days, we got absolutely hammered.
We won the last two days and I was really impressed with our fightback because it’s easy doing everything in a game when you are on top. But when you are behind, it shows a real test of the character within the team.
I’ve always said to my lads that at times this season, we are going to bowl and bat badly - that’s professional sport. But as long as everyone is giving 100 per cent for the team and fighting for the cause, then I don’t mind; as long as we can hold our hands up at the end of the day and say: ‘We’ve given it our best shot.’ In that case, if we aren’t good enough, so be it.
On the first day, I think we genuinely got bowled out (for 178). Maybe I misread the conditions, but the pitch was dry if a little bit overcast. But at Headingley, you always think it will swing around if it’s overcast and if it was damp, I probably would have bowled. But the pitch was dry and it swung and seamed a little bit. Notts bowled well and bowled us out.
With the ball, we had Ajmal Shahzad coming back, having not played a four-day game for three or four weeks. He was a bit rusty and Ollie (Hannon-Dalby) didn’t really hit his straps and that’s what you get from a young player sometimes.
To be fair, I thought Patto (Steve Patterson) bowled really well and he was exceptional, while Adil (Rashid) and Wainers (David Wainwright) just had an off-day. It was just one of those things where after the first two days, you just hold your hands up and say: ‘These things happen.’ But I was impressed that we won the last two days. A lot of teams would have just crumbled and lost in three days and we showed why we are up there in that competition.
Obviously, we didn’t much preparation time before the game, but I wouldn’t put what happened in the first few days down to preparation. I felt that on the first morning, all the lads were pretty switched on and up for the game and I don’t think preparation had anything to do with it. The lads were mentally in a good place. It was just one of those things in the first few days.
We play Gloucestershire in a televised Pro40 League game at Headingley today and they are a good side and we probably do owe them one after underperforming at Cheltenham.
But every game is a big game now in all competitions. For me, it’s all about what we do and I’m not bothered about Glocuester, Notts, Durham or whatever.
It’s about going out and giving it our best shot in every game and making sure we are switched on and executing our skills as best we can.
We saw off Derbyshire in the Pro40 at Chesterfield on Sunday to consolidate top spot. It’s always a nice ground to play at and there were plenty of Yorkshire supporters there, which was good. It was also good, high-scoring game, although a little bit closer than I would have liked or anticipated. We put runs on the board and that’s always key to batting first and then applied the pressure and just got wickets at the right time.
We probably bowled a bit wide in the first powerplay, but I always knew if we got some dot balls in the middle, the chances would come and we took it.
The result probably looked closer than it actually was; I think maybe they got 15 off the last over, needing 25 or something to win. Derbyshire are always a tricky team because you never know what you are going to get with them. They are inconsistent, but on their day, can beat anyone.
I actually ended up making it to Notts County to see my beloved Huddersfield Town on Saturday and what a start we had, winning 3-0! I went down on the way to the hotel on Saturday night ahead of the Derbyshire game. Town played terrific and if we play like that all season, we’ll be somewhere near.
The new players were fantastic and we looked a real solid side across the pitch. Last year, we looked panicky at times due to our inexperience, but we just didn’t panic at all on Saturday. We looked very cool on the ball as well.
ANDREW GALE - WED AUG 4
IT was a hard journey going to Holland and back for our Pro40 fixture there - but it was a case of job done with winning over there. We set off on Friday morning by ferry from Hull and didn’t get back until Monday morning for the sake of eighty overs. We set off back from Rotterdam at 7pm on Sunday night and got back at eight o’clock on Monday morning and were in Leeds by about ten o’clock.
It was a long weekend, but it was not too bad, though. The crossing was fine and we had our own rooms and bunk beds, had a bite to eat in the all-you-can-eat buffet and the lads had a little flutter in the casino and were on the arcades a bit, getting ready for the big week ahead.
There was no-one sea-sick, not that I know of anyway!
In terms of team bonding, it was a good exercise. As for who are the jokers in our side, I’d say Anthony McGrath has usually got something up his sleeve and usually has some sort of party game going on when we’re on the bus. Usually some sort of intelligent game which picks you up all the time.
It tends to be that he trips Adam Lyth up. Because although he’s great at cricket, if it wasn’t for his cricket, I don’t know what he would be doing! I think he thought Calais was in Germany at one point...
As for the loud singers, it’s usually Ajmal (Shahzad). Although he’s usually got his ‘R n B’ tunes pumping out at the back of the bus, which gives you a headache. We can only have it for - as we’ve said - half an hour at most, then he’s got to turn it down.
Onto the game and Holland was a potential banana-skin really and they are not a bad side. The conditions probably suited their style of cricket and it was a poor wicket, a very poor one!
The ball was going up and down through the air and Ajmal and Bres (Tim Bresnan) early on really gave them a lot of trouble without a lot of reward really. As soon as Rich Pyrah and Steve Patterson came on, they bowled nice and straight on a slow pitch and they were very hard to hit.
We kept them to just over 150, which was pleasing. After that, I knew it was important we got off to a good start on that pitch and made a conscious effort for us to be aggressive.
We were 87-4 and still had work to do, but the lads then did their bit in the middle and Jonny (Bairstow) came in and does what he does best and took the game away from them.
He seems to play better under pressure than he does sometimes when he goes into bat in an easier situation. It’s about finding the balance for him now and making sure that when the pressure isn’t always on, he can still perform and churn his runs out.
Because when he has been under pressure, he’s played some really important knocks this year and is a match-winner.
It was nice to have Tim and Ajmal both together, that hasn’t been the case often this year. We should hopefully have them both for next Sunday’s Pro40 game with Derbyshire Falcons as well, fingers crossed.
THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE season starts again on Saturday and I think my team, Huddersfield Town, will finally do it this year and get promoted from League One.
They have made some good, shrewd signings and have brought in some experienced players and Joey Gudjonsson looks a good one, along with Gary Naysmith at left-back.
I’m looking forward to going down to the Galpharm and am really excited about the football.
We play Notts County away on Saturday and while Yorkshire aren’t playing, I’ve just moved into my new house. But after playing all week and on Sunday, I’m pushing the boat out with the missus, to be honest! I’ve been away for what seems like the past week as well, so I’m not sure I’ll get away with it... But we can’t be going through those play-offs again, we seem to choke every team we get there. We need to get automatic and be playing against the Leeds’ again.
There’s still some big clubs in League One. Sheffield Wednesday are a massive club, while if Southampton hadn’t had their points deducted last year would have been right in amongst it.
MK Dons usually do a decent job and are usually there or thereabouts. There’s some strong sides in that division and it’s almost old-fashioned football where anyone can beat anyone. Like the Football League used to be without the Premiership top three or four.
Michael Vaughan is a big Wednesdayite and he’s already mentioned about going to the game in November. Steve Oldham is a big Wednesday fan as well, so there will no doubt be some interesting banter with them.
As much as I don’t like Leeds, I’d like them to do well really. I hope they stay in that division at least, if not get back up to the Premier League where they really belong.
I like the manager - he’s a big cricket fan - and comes down every now and again.
ANDREW GALE - WED JULY 28
I couldn't have asked for anymore from the lads after our victory against Middlesex at Lord’s on Sunday on our return to action in the Pro40 League. Lord’s is a special place and for a lot of us, it was the first time we’ve played there and it quite special walking through the Long Room and leading the Yorkshire side out there. It was a good all-round performance. I thought to restrict them to 183 was a good effort; we seem to communicate well in one-day cricket at the moment.
Taking the pace off a used pitch was the way to go on Sunday, while with the bat, I always felt if me and Jacques got off to a good start and we kept wickets in hand that we should cruise the game and that’s exactly what we did, putting on 100 odd for the first wicket. It will have given the lads a lot of confidence in terms of the manner in which we won. If we do get to a Lord’s final, we should be feeling good, knowing that we have won there before. Morale was pretty high on the bus back and we had a few tunes blaring out and there was a good feeling in the camp.
One of my main concerns what that we hadn’t played in that competition for a few months, and after Twenty20, I didn’t want people going into that (Pro 40) competition with the same mentality.
I felt it was important after the game on Friday and on Saturday that the lads sort out got their heads around how we played in the first four Pro 40 games.
We remembered our game plans and methods and seemed to put that into place at Lord’s. Obviously, it was nice to have Ajmal Shahzad back from an ankle injury, as we’d originally thought he’d be out for a few weeks. But we all know what Ajmal is like and he’s a really hard worker and he had put the hard yards in all last week and seemed to recover faster than we first anticipated. I was pleased by the way he went in taking four wickets.
We’re obviously going to lose him for the England versus Pakistan Test match now. But depending on him being in the final XI, we might get him back. It would definitely good to have both Bres and Ajmal around.
Jacques Rudolph helped us over the line with the bat at Lord’s, making 86 not out, following on from his exploits in the County Championship game at Essex where he made a century in the second innings. It’s been tough for Jacques because people forget that he has been playing all year round. He plays first-class cricket all winter in South Africa as well and we decided to give him a bit of a break earlier this month ahead of the Essex game, while he also had a bit of a shoulder injury as well. It was important he got a bit of a break. He was fresh and raring to go in the week and he really looks like he’s got that hunger back to score runs and he’s certainly been stacking them up.
THE drawn game with Essex in the County Championship was a really good game of cricket, although I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get over the line at the end. It was a great chase by the boys and to end up 36 runs short at 333-7 - chasing 369 to win - was a little bit frustrating as we were cruising at one stage. We showed our aggression and that’s the sort of cricket we’ve been playing this year. In recent years, we probably would have batted out for a draw, but for the sake of three points, we just thought: ‘Why don’t we just give it a go?’ and see where it takes us.
I was pretty proud of how the boys went about their business and the fearless, aggressive cricket we played what hopefully what my team has been all about this year and what I wanted when I took over as captain. We came out confident after the game and felt we took out something from it. It should give the lads confidence going into the big game against Notts next week.
In terms of individual highs, Adam Lyth’s performance stood out in getting 75 in the first innings and the way he is performing with the bat at the moment is just outstanding.
Adil Rashid also keeps getting better and better with his bowling, with his five wickets in the first innings. He’s bowling with real confidence and consistency now
Our World Cup predictor saga is now finally over - readers will be pleased to know - and the winner was Ben Sanderson. He won 170 quid and he nicely said he’d get a round in on Thursday night at our team meal and keep the rest of the money. I’m sure with the Premier League season coming up, Mags will get something lined up for that, no doubt!
ANDREW GALE - WED JULY 14
Last Thursday was a brilliant day for me - to score 90 runs in the final for England Lions was a good achievement and then the news that Yorkshire had beaten Warwickshire in the LV= County Championship topped things off.
It was looking for that score throughout the Lions series and I’m glad it came. And when I got out, I was watching quite closely at the score at Headingley Carnegie and I was texting Craig White regularly, asking how many we needed off how many overs.
It was a great run-chase to get 200 off 37 overs on a fourth-day pitch against Imran Tahir. We’ve now done that twice against them this year and it was a great day for us.
I felt it was a game we needed to be winning because Warwickshire were definitely there for the taking. They are not on the greatest run of form at the moment in the Championship and their batting has been fragile.
And we’ve got nothing to lose now. I’ve been saying to the lads that things are in our hands and we’ve just got to keep playing that attacking brand of cricket we’ve been playing all year. f we do that and keep executing our skills, there’s no reason why we can’t win another two, three or four games.
Back to England and my innings on Thursday was probably my best knock for the Lions. I probably played differently to how I usually do and just tried to hold the innings together and see it through and let everyone play around me when I’m usually the guy who is making all the running and showing the aggression. It was a different role, but I felt I did pretty well. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t go through and end up making 110 not out or something. But you can’t have it all and I would have taken 90 at the beginning of the day. I was happy enough with the way I played and hopefully, can stake a claim for a full England spot.
I’m just concentrating on Yorkshire at the moment. But if I keep stacking the runs out and am successful with Yorkshire, more England recognition may come. It doesn’t just apply to me, but also the other Yorkshire lads such as Adam Lyth and Jonny Bairstow, who will have aspirations to play for England. The better we do as a team, the more players who will go on and play for England.
It was really disappointing to lose in the Twenty20 Roses game against Lancashire at Old Trafford. We made a good start, but just kept losing wickets at vital times, just when we were starting to get momentum. It was a case of someone else having to come in and face two or three balls to get themselves in and then go again.
We were probably ten or fifteen runs shy, I thought. And again, we didn’t bowl too well in our first six overs. I thought that’s why we really lost it and we got behind. We did pull things back in the middle, as we have done all year. But it wasn’t enough and it was a disappointing night.
There’s fine lines in t20. It’s one of those games where in the space of two or three overs, you can win or lose a match.
Our mini-break has come at a good time, definitely. The lads have had a few days off and are now back in training and are now ready to go again. Obviously, losing to Lancashire was pretty tough to take. But the lads were quite fatigued really after playing 12 out of 13 days, two Championship matches and four Twenty20 games in the space of two to two-and-a-half weeks is tough.
It’s going to be tough to qualify in the t20. We could have done with Lancashire beating Derbyshire on Sunday, but unfortunately, they didn’t. Most of the time results have gone quite well for us this year, but it’s up to us now.
I’ve read that Jacques (Rudolph) keeps saying I’m like Graeme Smith as a captain - I don’t know him, but know he hasn’t got too many friends surrounding cricket on the international scene! My style is my style and like no-one else. The Andrew Gale, not Graeme Smith, style!
THE WORLD CUP may be over, but we’re not sure which our players has won our prediction competition yet as it hasn’t been announced! Mags (Anthony McGrath) has said that two or three lads were in the hunt, so he had to text a tie-breaker out - who would score the first goal in the final. But there wasn’t a first goal in 90 minutes, so I’m not sure what will happen.
The final itself was pretty boring. It was a tough game to referee and Holland just gave old-school tactics - namely if they can’t play football against them, kick them up in the air!
There probably should have been two or three sendings-off and Holland were lucky really to get just one sent off. I know they weren’t happy at the end, but I don’t really think they could have anything to moan about.
ANDREW GALE - JULY 7
Being made skipper of the England Lions side in the absence of the injured Alistair Cook has been great for me. All experience counts and I’ve really enjoyed it over the past week or so in terms of captaining some players who have played a lot of Test and one-day cricket for England and leading them out has been quite a proud moment. I was keen to do the job and have been happy with the way it’s gone.
I didn’t play on Tuesday against India A because we played a rotation side, but I’ll be back on Thursday for the final of the triangular tournament at Worcester and fingers crossed, I’ll get an opportunity to make a big score.
Of the ones I’ve played in, we’ve won three out of three so far. Personally, I didn’t get much of an opportunity in the first game with three not out, although I played well in the second game and got 29 and was a bit disappointed I didn’t go on and make a big score. And then on Sunday, I got out first ball, which is just one of those things!
To break into the group of batsmen there is an achievement and I think I am the only batsman there who hasn’t played for England (senior team). To get my name banded with those players is good and they said at the beginning of the tournament they had picked an England second team, so that’s given me confidence I’m close to the full side.
Ravi (Bopara) played excellently for his 168 against West Indies A on Sunday. At one stage, we were 14-3 and for him to get 150 and then 160 was a great individual performance. That’s what Sunday was about; Tregs (Peter Trego) got five-fer, Ravi got four-fer and 168 and that was that, job done! Ravi has got masses of talent and ability and I think he’ll be a big player for England in years to come. He’s probably still learning his game a little bit, but he’s still not far off being a great international cricketer.
I’ve been keeping up with developments at Yorkshire from afar and I was pleased with our performance in the Roses’ championship match at Old Trafford where we played some good cricket apparently and went back to the top of the table, despite having to settle for a draw.
We were a bit unfortunate to lose some time with the weather or we could have won that game; although Lancashire could have said the same thing about when they played us at our place, so it evened itself out a bit.
But it’s been disappointing in terms of our last two Twenty20 matches against Warwickshire and Northamptonshire, especially the way it ended up at Northants in a tie. I spoke to Martyn Moxon and Richard Pyrah and to not win in the way we did, with them needing 13 off the last ball (to win) is scandalous really. We shouldn’t have lost victory in that manner and it was definitely a point thrown away.
It was a bit of a freak performance and for them to get 12 off the last ball (and tie) is not clear thinking for me. But speaking to Martyn, the game should have been lost by then anyway and we weren’t the best side on the day. But from being in the position at the end, we should still have won the game.
We didn’t play very well against Warwickshire on Sky either, which was frustrating.
Without making excuses, I’ve got to say the schedule has been difficult, switching from one form of cricket to another. I haven’t played a Championship game for about a month now and I’ve found it difficult to adapt from just Twenty20 to fifty overs (with England) because all my movements and game plans are different when I’m at the crease.
It’s taken me the past week, working and training really hard in the nets and batting for long periods of time to get my movements back to what they were before we started playing Twenty20.
So it does upset people’s rhythms in their bowling and batting and it’s hard with the current schedule to adapt to that. Although the lads do so well to adapt back to the four-day stuff in the Roses game, I felt last week.
The new Carnegie Pavilion at Headingley Carnegie is now up and running and the lads came out of it on Sunday for the Warwickshire t20 game, so I’ll be coming in and trying to find where my spot is in the dressing room and hopefully kick one of the younger lads out! But it’s a first-class facility and is continuing the development of Headingley as a top-notch Test cricketing arena.
ANDREW GALE - JUNE 23
We turned in a good performance to beat Leicestershire by nine wickets in the Twenty20 on Sunday; but it’s easy to do it when the cameras are there and it’s a decent crowd, like we also did against Lancashire.
The challenge is to win on a windy night at places like the Riverside when there’s only a thousand in and we’ve got to get some consistency now in performances if we are going to kick on and qualify.
Leicestershire was a must-win game really. We are a position in the league where if we’d lost, we would have probably slipped away and a win kept us in the hunt in the group stages. We owed it to each other to put a performance on and the lads managed to do that after Friday night’s disappointment up at Durham. Obviously, we faced Matthew Hoggard for the first time. Hoggy’s a good lad and more was made about it in the press against him playing against his old club. I’ve obviously faced Hoggy in the nets and knew exactly how he was going to bowl at me and try and get me out. There was no banter at all really; I think Hoggy was just a bit disappointed after the game to lose to us, which is understandable.
They opted to bat first and their score of 148-8 weren’t far off par as I thought 160 was about right on a slow pitch with not a lot of pace on it.
From a bowling point of view, I thought we bowled really well and Rich Pyrah just showed his class in the middle overs to restrict them and keep things together for us, taking 2-19.
Rich is having a good year and in one-day cricket, he’s really come into his own and I think he’s found his game now and becoming a really specialist in the middle overs and at the back end in a Ian Harvey-type role, if you like. He’s excellent in the field and a good team man to have around and his attitude and work ethic is brilliant and that rubs off on the younger lads.
He’s the sort of person you want in your team. He might not be blessed with Tim Bresnan’s pace or Jacques Rudolph’s batting, but he’s a good all-round package.
In reply, I felt the first six overs were going to be important in the batting powerplay and we went after things and it came off for us and the game was pretty much won then and I was delighted to hit an unbeaten 65 and have a good partnership with Jacques (Rudolph).
ENGLAND are taking on the Aussies in the NatWest one-day series and I think it will be a good one. With the way England are playing and with their confidence shown in the likes of Bressy and Ajmal, I just feel they will probably do the Aussies this time around.
Everyone seems to be in good form and there’s a great team spirit around and from a bowling point of view, the Aussies aren’t what they used to be.
I DIDN’T watch England’s World Cup game against Algeria last Friday, although I did listen to the second-half on the way back from Durham in the car with Rich Pyrah. After already being depressed after losing the game up there, listening to that made it even worse and I felt like hanging myself. It was a terrible day!
I did Sky Plus the game, but to be honest, didn’t even bother watching the ‘highlights’ when I got home. They have been struggling and with the way the players are talking in the press, I’m not sure Capello seems to be the right man for the job. It’s been a funny World Cup so far. A lot of the so-called top teams seem to be getting beat or not doing well. Look at Germany, they played so well in their first game and got beat in the second, while Spain have been beaten also.
Brazil might have won comprehensively on Sunday, but I watched the first-half and they looked average. My tip is Argentina and it’s a case of so far, so good. I hope that all comes right for my sweepstake. The tipping competition for the Yorkshire players is still wide open with the offisde, total goals and headed goals, it’s hard! I know Ollie (Hannon-Dalby) is doing ok so far. I still think we’ll pull it out of the bag against Slovenia. Despite what is happening behind the scenes, I think the players will pull together and do it their way. I’m predicting a 3-0 England win.
Wimbledon has also started and I’ve got to say I’ve more interest in it now than I used to have. When I was in Dubai with the England Lions, we went to watch the Dubai Open. It was really good, although previously I’d not really watched any tennis in my life. I’ve played a couple or games with Jacques Rudolph in hotels when we’ve had a day off. But he absolutely pans me and I need to improve!
ANDREW GALE - JUNE 9
It's not been an ideal start to our Friends Provident t20 campaign at Yorkshire and it’s probably the bowling that has let us down. It’s never easy chasing over 200 in Twenty20 for two nights running and I do think we probably do lack a bit of experience in the bowling department in t20 cricket. But we’ve got to learn fast; in the two games, we probably also lacked a little bit of extra pace with Bressy and Ajmal being unavailable.
I actually think we’ve batted pretty well. We got 167 on Thursday and then on Friday, just short of 190. They are match-winning scores in Twenty20 cricket, but it’s been the bowling department which has let us down. As a batting unit, I’ve been quite pleased by what we’ve produced. No-one has made a fifty, but quite a lot have made good knocks, especially chasing big targets and that’s been quite pleasing.
But with the ball, we’ve just been a bit one-dimensional and we’ve got to learn from that.
I would say that to have just a practice day between switching from the County Championship first-class format to the shorter Twenty20 form - and not even a rest day - is pretty difficult.
We obviously just had a day’s preparation and didn’t want the lads to focus a week before when we were playing Championship cricket. But while yes, it has been difficult, it’s been the same for every county. We’ve got to make sure we get our heads around that and learn pretty fast.
The players have had three days off - Saturday, Sunday, Monday - and we trained pretty hard and had a full day on Tuesday and a lighter session this morning; it’s down to what the individuals want and then we’ll hit the ground running on Thursday when we play Durham.
Onto Test matters and I saw a bit of the match at Old Trafford against Bangladesh and I thought England bowled really well to close out the game. That said, I thought Tamim Iqbal played fantastically well for Bangladesh; he’s a great player. But from a batting point of view, a few of them (England) will have been disappointed not to go on and make big scores down the order and a few got in and then out. If you were being critical, you’d say there were times when they (England) bowled and batted poorly and when you are playing tougher opposition, they will have to do a little bit better than that.
But at the end of the day, we’ve beat Bangladesh hands down in two tests and that’s all you can do. We’d have taken that.
The WORLD CUP is upon us and Mags, along with Rich Pyrah, have already put together a table where we have to predict all sorts of things. We’ve got to guess how many goals there’s going to be in the tournament, how many penalties are going to be taken, how bookings and offsides, headed goals - all sorts of things... There’s a table up on the wall and all the lads are doing it and it’s creating a bit of excitement.
And it’s ten pounds per man, so there’s a little bit of cash up for grabs as well. I think that’s created more excitement. It must have taken Mags and Rich a while to get it sorted out, although Mags is a football buff!
Basically, we’ve been given a sheet and there’s about 15 questions on it and however gets the most points, gets the most cash. It’s a tough one, especially for the lads who aren’t interested in football. God knows how many offsides there’s going to be in the tournament or corners!
As for England, I think we’ll do well, but it’s just a question of whether they can put some form together. Every time they go into a big competition, it seems like we always underperform in the knockout stages. But we’ve definitely got the players. Although for me, I’d say Argentina look the side to beat, with the likes of Messi in there, and they have got some real key players.
Picking a winner is a tough one, although it looks like it has all the makings of being a great tournament. I just hope I can see as much as I can. Come what may, I’ll definitely be Sky-plusing the England games. Luckily enough, we aren’t playing this Saturday when England take on the USA in the evening in their group opener, so I’ll definitely be watching that live.
ANDREW GALE - JUNE 2
It was a difficult few days in the Roses match against Lancashire. Eight games in and it was the first time we’ve really had a collapse. Lancashire, for instance, have had two or three already this season and it’s a test of character and about how you react. Apart from a couple of dismissals in the first innings, I thought we were genuinely bowled out by them.
They were better than us.
Monday’s was a different pitch to what it was on the first day, which was actually encouraging. We underprepared the Headingley pitch a little bit and it’s encouraging we managed to find a way of deteriorating it a bit - although it was a difficult day for us. We didn’t perform to our best or get stuck in.
These things happen, that’s cricket and it’s been a bit of a kick up the backside we maybe needed. There were no harsh words from me on Monday. As long as everyone is focused and switched on, we have to hold our hands up sometimes and say bad days can happen.
If we aren’t switched on, that’s what disappoints me. But I had a word with the lads and we felt we were all switched on.
Obviously, a lot was made before the game about Adam Lyth potentially being the first batsman since Graeme Hick to get 1,000 first-class runs before the end of May.
I felt that there was a lot of pressure surrounding him over this 1,000-runs thing and I had a chat and told him to keep going through the processes he has been doing. Unfortunately, in the first innings he just played on and was out without scoring. If he had the same ball again, he would play the same shot and on another day, it would have gone through the covers and gone for four and everyone would have said: ‘Great shot.’ They are the fine lines that you get in batting. Adam’s having a great year. Along with his centuries, he’s got out for ninety-odd a few times and eighty-plus as well. It would have been nice for him to get a few more hundreds, but he’s still in great form and I’m pleased for the way it’s gone for him.
The drawn game at Hampshire last week ended up petering out - and while some people have said to me: ‘Why didn’t you set a game up on the last day,” to be honest, if we’d done that it would have been in their favour. I wasn’t prepared to do that. At the end of the day, they put us into bat on the first day, trying to bowl us out. And when they declared behind us, that showed how well we’d batted.
We lost the first hour of the final day through the rain and that sort of messed the game up. I wasn’t prepared to say: “Go on, you chase a nice little total off fifty overs.” I also felt that with the back-to-back County Championship matches and the Roses game coming up, I had to think about the bowling attack and I just felt there were some heavy legs around. (Steve) Patterson and (Oliver) Hannon Dalby are just starting to get a little bit tired and this break for Twenty20 will probably do them good now. After three championship matches in successive weeks on three pretty flat pitches, they have bowled the best part of 150 overs in three weeks. It would be good if they could get a little bit of a rest over the few weeks while Twenty20 is on and they are only bowling four overs at a time.
We've brought in Herschelle Gibbs and Clint McKay for the Friends Provident Twenty20 competition - which starts for us tomorrow at home to Derbyshire Falcons - and it’s always good to bring a few new faces into the dressing room as it freshens things up a little bit and keeps people on their toes. At this moment in time, it’s a timely boost for us.
All the team went for a drink with them on Monday night just after the day’s play and they seem two really nice blokes. Obviously Herschelle’s got a lot of experience in Twenty20 cricket, IPL and international cricket and Clint has done well down under. I’ll be speaking to them a lot over the next four or five weeks and hopefully I’ll get some ideas of what they can bring to the team in regard to Twenty20.
It would be nice if we can also have Ajmal (Shahzad) about a bit, although I’m not sure how much we will have him, in view of the injury news about Tim (Bresnan). Tim’s going to be out for a month, minimum, so I’d imagine Ajmal will slot into that Test slot.
We all headed over to watch the rugby league on Saturday, with the weather wiping out the first day of the Roses match, and it was a really enjoyable game. Leeds Rhinos showed a lot of character, despite being backs-to-the-wall for quite a lot of the game. In a tight game, they showed that can perform well under pressure. Obviously, the Lancs lads were supporting Wigan and sat away from us. But we get on well with them, although it was nice to see the White Rose win.
ANDREW GALE - MAY 26
I got a decent score of 74 with the England Lions against Bangladesh last week and obviously, I do have ambitions to play international cricket and make the step up to Test level.
Being around the set-up last week was good experience for me. Bangladesh as opponents weren’t great, but it was still nice to contribute with a score; it keeps my name floating around the international scene and among the selectors. I enjoyed the experience.
The main thing for me is just concentrating on what I’m doing with Yorkshire at the minute, that’s what I have said from the start. That’s going well and I know what I’ve got to do to get into the full England side and that is keeping doing well for Yorkshire and stacking the runs up and knocking on the door. And if there’s any injuries that come about, I’ve got to try and make sure my name is next in line.
Yorkshire-wise, we may have lost our first County Championship game of the season at Somerset in Taunton, but at least we did it playing positive cricket. It wasn’t like we got hammered, so to speak. Speaking to the lads who were there, we played most of the cricket for three-and-a-half days.
Obviously, I was otherwise engaged on England Lions’ duty in Derby and it was difficult not to be there for me personally. But I backed the lads who were there and left the team in good hands in Jacques Rudolph and it was just unfortunate they came out on top in the last couple of sessions and we didn’t bowl as well as could have done.
Going into the final day, we wanted to set up a game and on another day, it could have gone our way. I sent a few messages around on Thursday night to lift the boys. But we’d done well for three-and-a-half days and the lads, to be fair, didn’t need much lifting. Everyone is still in good form.
By missing out on the draw, we didn’t lose that many points. We’ve been playing attacking cricket and attempting to win and that’s the brand of cricket we’ve been playing all year.
We will continue to risk a loss in trying to get a win as if you play like that, you win more than you lose. We are in a position in the table where we can do that now.
We showed a bit of strength of character on the first day of the Hampshire game on Monday, coming off the back of a loss. The spirit was good. They put us in and it was a good toss to lose, to be honest. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do, really! At the toss, the wicket looked a little bit green and the first session was going to be key. We managed to do that and once did, it made things a lot easier in the afternoon.
We've signed Aussie bowler Clint McKay in time for the domestic Twenty20 competition and I first heard about him late last year, to be honest. His name cropped up last November when I was on the England performance programme. I asked Dene Hills, the (former) Australian batting coach what talent there was for overseas players over in Australia and Mckay’s name came up. His stats in domestic cricket are really good and he’s also performed well for Australia in one-day and Test cricket since then. He’s hungry, enthusiastic and looking to push his career forward and speaking to other Australians about him, he fits the mould.
He’s good around the dressing room and is the sort of person I want around the club.
He’s a bowler who wants to get the ball full and who wants to attack the batsmen. I think he’s more of a seamer than a swing bowler and has done well in international cricket and has probably been a bit unlucky not to play more games. When Ryan Harris came on the scene, he took his spot a bit. But we’re looking forward to having him at the club.
In terms of Harris, the contract is still there on the table if he drops out of international cricket at some stage. But the way things are going for him with Australia, I wouldn’t imagine that will come around.
Obviously, Herschelle Gibbs is also joining up with us for the Twenty20 competition, which starts next week and his record speaks for itself. He’s been a destructive player in international cricket for many a year now and has a wealth of experience. He’ll bring a lot to the team; not just on the field, but off it as well. He’s also an exceptional fielder and the experience he’s got from international cricket and the IPL is going to be invaluable for us in terms of our Twenty20 season.
I’m still licking my wounds a bit from Huddersfield Town’s League One play-off semi final exit to Millwall last week. I was a bit disappointed with the way Town went about things; they looked like they ‘bottled’ it a little bit. But they are a work in progress by the looks of it. I’m sure they will bring in a few new faces this summer and let’s hope we can push on next season.
I got a ribbing off the Leeds United supporters in the Yorkshire camp and I must admit that I switched my phone off after the game. I turned it back on in the morning (Wednesday) and there were a few texts there. That’s the way it is, there’s always next season!.
ANDREW GALE - WED MAY 12
It's going fantastically well for us at Yorkshire this season, it must be the column! The big thing is that everyone is contributing.
We’ve got a board in the dressing room with 100s and five-fers and everyone is striving to get their name on it. I think we’ve got more already than we had in the whole of last year.
I know there were a few umms and aahs from the members that David Wainwright wasn’t playing in the last four-dayer at Scarborough. But we thought the pitch was more suited to a four-seam attack and Rich Pyrah came in and got 60 with the bat and two important wickets in the second innings.
Everyone is holding their hand up and it’s not just left to the same old regulars. If this season is going to be a success, everyone has got to contribute. Whether they are 18 or 38, anyone in that side can make a match-winning contribution. I’ve told the lads time and time again that whatever their game plan is, they have got to be ruthless with it and make their contribution count.
The way we played our cricket in our last two games was brilliant. People said we would struggle without Ajmal and Tim, but the bowlers have stood up and Steve Patterson has been exceptional in the 40-overs win over Derbyshire and the victory over Essex in the County Championship in terms of the lines and lengths he has bowled. He has asked questions of the batsmen every time he has let the ball go and it’s been pleasing to see him get his rewards with two five-fers in a week. With Tim and Ajmal going, I think Steve knew he would have to step up and play a more senior role in the team. Usually he’s played in a holding role, but in the past week, he’s been more of an attacking option and bowled wicket to wicket instead of trying not to go for runs and it’s worked.
To win by 100 runs in a 40-over game, as we did on Sunday, is a massive margin. From a batting point of view, I thought me and Jacques might have got it wrong early on with the pitch. It was a decent one going a bit, but we probably went a little bit too hard and gave away our wickets. But the way Gerard Brophy came in and held the innings together and timed it to perfection was great to see. The powerplay worked in our favour again and with the ball, we just bowled straight and wicket to wicket and Ben Sanderson, Steve and the two spinners bowled brilliantly.
Gerard is a true professional and he has gone about his business really well this year. It’s tough for him to be left out of the side at 32 and he’s been very unlucky not to play. But he’s stacked the runs up in the seconds and his attitude has been brilliant with the young lads.
He’s continued to stake a claim and not just laid down and died. That’s the sort of bloke he is. If there’s an injury, then he’s the next in line; just from a batting point of view, not just wicket-keeping one.
It followed our County Championship exploits against Essex and to win in three days was brilliant. Winning a county championship game takes so much hard work and to be sat in the dressing room on Thursday night and having a few beers and just talking about cricket was what it is all about. We stayed there for two-and-a-half hours just talking to each other and enjoying each other’s success and company and then to have Friday off and rest - as there’s been a few little niggles about - and two days off before Sunday’s game was great.
We’ve forced the follow-on in two successive games for the first time in fifty years or something and it’s a nice stat. But the pleasing thing for me is that we are taking 20 wickets consistently; it’s something we haven’t always done well in the last few years.
I obviously enjoyed my 100 and have had a lot of success at Scarborough. It was where I scored my first one-day fifty and maiden century and I must have scored three or four hundreds for Yorkshire juniors there. It’s a good ground for bat and ball and if you bowl straight, you get your rewards. It seems to be that I like playing against Essex at the moment, I think I’ve got 260 runs against them this year and only been out once.
The break this week has come at a good time and the majority of the first-team will have three or four days off before resuming training. We can just recharge the batteries and think about the success so far and have we’ve gone about it and make sure when we go again in training tomorrow, we continue to do the right things.
LEEDS UNITED have been promoted - and congratulations to them. Hopefully, Huddersfield can go up now! It was pleasing to see Leeds go up. I know one of their players, Leigh Bromby, very well, he lives in my town and I texted him on Saturday morning wishing him luck.
I listened to all the final-day action on the radio and also had the website up to see what was happening with the league positions. I thought Leeds had stuffed it up at half-time and at one point I think Leeds were in third and Town in sixth and I was looking at a Leeds-Town play-off!
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend Town’s home semi final play-off clash on Saturday against Millwall due to Yorkshire commitments, if it was Friday, I could have gone. It’s a bit disappointing, but as long as we go up, I don’t care. I’ll be recording the game on Sky Plus. Hopefully, no-one will tell me the result and I can watch it when I get back!
On the day of the final, we are playing at Lancashire, the first day of four. Hopefully, I’ll win the toss and bat first...
ENGLAND can go all the way and win the World Twenty20 competition; the way Kevin Pietersen is hitting the ball at the moment, he could win it on his own for us...
I saw the South Africa game and thought England looked a really good outfit. The way they are making good use of the batting powerplays is something they haven’t always had and the two opening batsmen, Craig Keiswetter and Michael Lumb, who I toured with in Dubai before this season, are looking a very successful partnership and contributing well at the top.
ANDREW GALE - WED MAY 5
We started our season in Scarborough in fine fashion against Northants in the 40-over competition on Sunday - although I’ve got to say it was absolutely freezing! It was rain-affected and a tough day to keep the lads motivated, but at least we won, that was the important thing.
Tino (Best) said it was a little bit different to Barbados and said he was frozen to the bone! When he came, he said he’d like surfing and I told him he’d be able to go surfing at Scarborough. But when he got here, he said he’d give the surfing a miss!
Fair play to the supporters as well at the ground. They generated a good atmosphere at the back end of the game, which was pleasing to see in dire weather. The forecast for Sunday was actually fine, although you never know what you are doing to get at Scarborough and I’ve been checking the weather forecasts a bit, I must admit. But I’ve got to say that in April, we only missed a couple of afternoons of cricket and it quite pleasing we only lost that much in the whole of the month.
In terms of forecasting, some lads don’t bother at all, but I think we have a few forecasters who always say if there’s a bit of weather around. I tend to check to see if there’s anything big coming in! If it’s just showers, sometimes the forecasters get that wrong.
I don’t know what the reasoning for going to Scarborough early is, that’s probably a question for the chief executive. But I know Scarborough has been a good hunting ground for us in the past three or four years and we’ve had quite a lot of success. The wicket suits the way we play as it’s a fast and bouncing one and hopefully this week, we’ll be able to take advantage and have some more success.
The way the lads timed the innings with the bat on Sunday was brilliant. Me and Jacques (Rudolph) got us off to a good start and he’s in great form at the moment and carried that through. He’s in the form of his life as he showed in his double-hundred against Durham last week and he looks really focused this year and is hitting the ball so well and executing his game plans.
And then Mags timed his innings to perfection really, he got himself in and took advantage of the last ten overs and I think we scored 70-odd runs from the last five overs or something and that was really pleasing. Mags is in fine form now and I’m sure he’ll continue that throughout the season and score heavily for us.
Richard Pyrah did well and offers us a bit with bat and ball and is also a great fielder. He’s probably been a bit unlucky in terms of not playing more Championship cricket, but he’s a good lad to have around the dressing room and worked hard at his game. He’s a weapon with the ball in one-day cricket, especially the way he mixes it up with his Ian-Harvey type bowling. You can set some good fields for him and he’s very hard to hit.
We had the better of the LV= County Championship draw against Durham last week and while they had a few big players missing, they are still a good unit. To dominate like we did over four days - I think we nearly won every session, was very pleasing and we could take a lot of positives from that, although the weather did for us a little bit.
The ruthlessness we are showing in our cricket at the moment and the way the lads are getting in and making hundreds is tremendous.
I was a little bit disappointed with the pitch at Headingley Carnegie, if I’m honest. I thought it was a little bit too flat and it didn’t really break up or spin as we would have liked and it was a bit slow as well. Ideally, we would have liked a little bit more pace and deterioration. I’m not sure if we overprepared that pitch or not, so it’s something we’ll look at and see what we can do to combat that.
It was pleasing to see Tino get some wickets on the last day and I’ve got to say he’s fitted in brilliantly on and off the field. He’s really enthusiastic in the dressing room and offers you something different on the pitch, which is pace. When he comes on, he always looks like taking a wicket. And with Scarborough being a bit more of a bouncy pitch, hopefully we will get some sunshine and it will help him.
The League One football season will go right down to the wire - and the second automatic slot is still on for (Huddersfield) Town, I see! In an ideal world, it would be nice to see Leeds go up on Saturday and Huddersfield to go through the play-offs and win at Wembley.
It’s a shame Sheffield Wednesday have gone down as there’s quite a lot of Yorkshire teams in the Championship - and hopefully they will be two more. There will be some great games if Town and Leeds go up.
We’ve got quite a few big football fans here at Yorkshire. Mags is a massive Man U fan and he was watching the games on Sunday when we were off for rain. Tino was also watching the Chelsea game, as he’s a big Chelsea fan and he keeps celebrating like Didier Drogba every time he gets a wicket!
There’s also a few Leeds fans such as Richard Pyrah, Bressy and Kevin Sharp who will be backing them to do it this weekend.
The country is being gripped by election fever, but we’ll be otherwise engaged against Essex at Scarborough. I think some of the lads have applied for a postal vote and I’ve applied for a proxy vote, so the missus can go and vote for me.
She can take my vote, I’ll trust her...
ANDREW GALE - WED APRIL 28
Tino Best had a great Yorkshire debut at Essex on Sunday and his spell was the quickest I’ve probably seen on a cricket field, along with Morne Morkel, who bowled with exceptional pace in his short stay here.
Tino was that quick that he snapped Alistair Cook’s stump in half when he bowled him and when he got his wickets, he was running off like an aeroplane and pointing to Martyn (Moxon) on the balcony, saying: “That’s for you, boss!”.
That’s the sort of guy he is. He’s so pleased to have the opportunity to come over and show what he can do. Because I think he feels a little bit mistreated by West Indies and not given a fair crack of the whip. He’s got something to prove and he’s going to be a handful.
Sometimes when he runs in, I’m not sure he knows where it’s going. But I just want him to run in and bowl quick and straight, ruffle a few feathers and get a few wickets.
I made the decision to bowl first on Sunday as I felt the pitch was a little bit damp and Tino took advantage of that and had a superb debut. He has already shown himself to be a character in the dressing room. He’s an outgoing guy and a typical outspoken West Indian. He’s really good to have around and he’s not just enthusiastic - he’s overenthusiastic and puts in a lot of effort all of the time on pitch.
For Jacques Rudolph and I to share in a record first-wicket one-day league stand on Sunday in our reply was fantastic, but for the team, it was all about making a statement.
Me and Jacques just went about our business and as we got nearer, our aim was to knock it off with ten wickets left. I felt it would make a mark on the rest of the results around the country and make teams sit up and see Yorkshire are going in the right direction.
You don’t think about records when you are in the middle. We just wanted that ten-wicket win and it was about being ruthless, really.
We left probably an hour after the game to get on the coach and they (Essex) were still in the dressing room, then. But I’m not really bothered about what issues they have got, it doesn’t really interest me.
You certainly could say it was a good day. Especially as we haven’t had a lot of success at Essex over the last three or four years. We lost a (Friends Provident Trophy) semi-final there a couple of years back and a quarter-final Twenty20 tie there. I said to the lads before the game that we had a score to settle; they are a good side, but I felt they were there for the taking if we could get in their faces.
It’s been a great start to the season. Brezzy keeps mentioning the term ‘Goldenballs’ to me. But we’re not getting carried away! We performed well in the County Championship draw at Kent and could take a lot from that game. They were times when we were down and out, but we showed tremendous fighting spirit, especially on the third and fourth day. It was especially pleasing on the last day when we had a target of 392 to chase. Kent went very defensive and we felt at tea, we’d give it a shot, even though it was a long one - 200 runs in a session when the ball is so soft and the fielders all on the boundary. But we gave it a good go and it was a winning draw, really.
We could have set back, defended and let the game take its toll. But we tried to do something about it and put a show on for the spectators and took a lot out of it as a team. It’s the sort of cricket I want to be known for and if we keep playing this brand of cricket, we’ll win more than we’ll lose.
Brezzy played well in the second innings. We sent him in just to kick things on and also felt with Tredwell on, it would be difficult to our left-handers at the top to score as he was bowling into the rough. Brezzy contributed well with 70 and unfortunately, I ran him out in the end. And there was also good time at the crease for Mags as well - he’s getting back to his best again.
THE INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE (IPL) has captured many people’s attentions recently, and I think if you asked most county cricketers, they would love to go to the IPL. I’ve watched a few games over the last couple of months and it looks a terrific atmosphere out there. And to test yourself against some of the world’s best players on the biggest stage and to get paid well for it looks very attractive. In the long term, it’s somewhere I’d love to go and play, just as Michael Lumb has done and he’s done very well this year.
LEEDS CARNEGIE have avoided relegation from the Guinness Premiership and that can only be good for Yorkshire sport. It was a good weekend for the county, with Leeds United and Huddersfield Town winning and scoring ten goals between them, so that can’t be bad.
I’ve had a look at the play-off semis and there’s one on the 14th and the other on the 15th of May. We play on the 15th, so fingers crossed, Huddersfield will be at home on the 14th and I can go get along and watch them on the Friday night!
ANDREW GALE - WED APRIL 21
To start my ‘home’ career as Yorkshire captain with a win was fantastic and I would say the hundred I scored in the first innings against Somerset at Headingley was the best innings and most vital I’ve played for the county so far. To come in at a time when we were struggling a little bit at 130-5, it was important I contributed and Tim Bresnan and I built up a really good partnership under pressure.
As a leader, it’s always nice to play a vital part in the game. That commands respect from the other players and it sort of gets the monkey off my back as well as people maybe saying beforehand: ‘He can’t score runs if he’s the captain as it will affect his batting.’ So I was really pleased I could contribute to the win and to score that hundred was a very special moment.
My family were also there when I knocked the runs off on Sunday as well and it was a really good day. We had a couple of beers in Headingley as a team afterwards as a ‘come down’ and it was a great win.
We probably owed Somerset one after they chased 470-odd down last year. I remember coming back from that game at Taunton - it was a six-and-a-half-hour drive and all the lads were pretty gutted. They also beat us last year at Headingley as well. They were actually the only team to beat us and won twice.
It would have been nice to have bowled them out a little cheaper on the Sunday morning and they got a few more runs than we would have liked. But I always thought that 200 was well within our grasp.
I think the week before at Warwickshire gave us a lot of confidence chasing down the total where the lads played well under pressure. I still felt the wicket was good enough to chase 250 down with the depth we’ve got in the batting. With Ajmal Shahzad and David Wainwright coming in at nine and ten, we’ve got the strength to chase anything down.
It’s now onto Kent and it’s their first home game and they will be looking to bounce back after losing their first match. We start at 0-0 again and it’s important we don’t get above ourselves and don’t look too far ahead. It’s a bit of cliche, but we’re taking each game as it comes.
We’re still going into each game as underdogs and we’ll play with fighting spirit. The pleasing thing is we’re playing well under pressure. But there’s 14 (first-class) games left and still a hell of a lot of cricket and long way to go.
We’ve got Tim and Ajmal available and they have bowled tremendously in the two games and it’s been good to have them around the dressing room, especially Brezzy’s experience as he’s a senior player now. He’s really matured and grown in stature in the dressing room. So it’s been brilliant to have them around as they will be missed when they go away with England for three or four weeks.
One of the most pleasing things this year is that the young lads have stepped up to the mark. I always said at the beginning of the season that the talent was there and it’s about getting the best out of these young lads if we are going to be successful this summer. So far, they have all stepped up to the plate.
Ollie (Hannon-Dalby) has been fantastic and Lythy’s done great as well. I wasn’t sure about him opening at the start of the season and there was a question mark over him. But he’s performed really well and played two vital knocks in the second innings of both our games so far in a run chase. There’s also Jonny (Bairstow), who hit a brilliant knock last week and his wicket-keeping has been really good as well.
The air crisis seems to be affecting everyone, including many on the sporting front and it’s something we at Yorkshire know only too well. Obviously, there’s the situation with Tino (Best) still in the Caribbean waiting for his flight to the UK, for instance. We’re unsure when he’s going to be here, hopefully sooner rather than later. There’s also a young academy lad who is stuck in Lanzarote, while Colin Graves, our chairman, has been stuck in Barbados. He actually texted me on Sunday saying: ‘Well done on the win ’ and congratulating the lads. But he also said: “It’s not too bad here actually!”, I think he’s got a place out there.
The Bradford League got underway at the weekend and it’s a competition that’s always been close to my heart. I started my senior career at Cleckheaton CC and it’s pleasing to see how they have done well over the past few years and competed. There’s quite a few good lads there and it’s a good grounding for them.
I notice there was also a young lad at Gomersal who I know that scored a hundred on Saturday, in Andy Gorrod and having first started at Gomersal, I’ve watched his career quite closely and seen him at close quarters a few times and he’ll probably be one to watch out for.
ANDREW GALE - EP APRIL 14
IT was fantastic to start my Yorkshire captaincy career with a win in the first game at Warwickshire - and I said to the lads afterwards I might retire now! I was jumping about on the balcony at the end with the lads when Tim Bresnan popped the runs off - it was an awesome feeling.
On the first morning of the game, I said that a lot of people were writing us off, but that we could only use that in our favour. We’ve got nothing to lose as a side and I just wanted us to go out and play fearless cricket. That’s what the lads did and there were not that many nerves knocking about and the lads just went out and performed their skills. I think things can work into our favour this year as every game, we go into, we’ll be underdogs. We want to prove people wrong as we’re a team full of fighters.
It was a brilliant final days’ cricket. At lunchtime, I was a little bit worried after a bit of a collapse, but we just sat down at lunch and said we were going to be positive and attacking and went out and did that. The way particularly Jonny Bairstow played under pressure was exceptional.
I just told the lads in to express themselves. I just thought that Imran Tahir is a world-class bowler and on a fourth day pitch when it’s turning, it was tough and if we let him dictate when he bowled at us, eventually he would have got us out.
We just set our stall out to go and play some shots and looked to shift the momentum back to us and that’s what Jacques (Rudolph) and Jonny did.
It was only the first game and I think over the past four years, we’ve won our first game three times and then been fighting off relegation. So even though we’ve got a win under our belts, we are not getting carried away.
It was a funny four days and when either side got their heads in front, something happened. You either lost a wicket or we didn’t build pressure with the ball.
Obviously the third night was a bit of a sleepless one, thinking about chasing 230 down at that stage. But other than that, I enjoyed the experience.
The bowling changes seemed to work in the first innings, with a few taking wickets in the first over. One thing the press said to me after the game was that the side must have been inspired by my bowling changes.
But I don’t think I can take the credit for that as it was the bowlers who did the job. That’s what they are paid to do, take wickets. For me, it was nice that the senior players didn’t take a major role in the game, really. Ollie Hannon-Dalby took five wickets and Jonny really won us the game. The senior ones just contributed here and there.
That’s what we want from this year. As I’ve said all along, the talent is there - it’s just putting it all in the right direction. Certainly, the younger lads will take a lot of confidence from what happened and they can build on that for the rest of the season.
I’m really looking forward to leading the side out at home on Thursday against Somerset. Headingley is a special place; it where I’ve been brought up and my family will be there as well, so I should be special.
We might have won at Warwickshire, but unfortunately things didn’t extend to me getting the Grand National winner on Saturday. The lads had a sweep stake, but it was actually our fitness guy, Tom Summers, who won it! He always wins stuff like that...When we go for a team meal, the last person to be drawn out of the hat gets a free meal and he must have won it three times already!
I’ve never won it. While he’s had three free meals and a few hundred quid after winning the national...
I’m a big soccer fan and obviously all the talk has been about how good Lionel Messi as after his four goals against Arsenal. I was actually at the (Huddersfield) Town match. But one of my friends who I was there with kept saying: “Messi’s scored another, Messi’s scored another”.
We could have done with him playing for Huddersfield, to be honest. Although we won last week against Oldham, it was a pretty dire game. It’s an important time for Town this week. We play Millwall on Friday, but I don’t think we should be thinking of doing Leeds a favour. We’ve got to do ourselves a favour first!
It would be good if Leeds and Huddersfield went up. Although I could see it being a Huddersfield versus Leeds final, if I’m honest.