Yorkshire v Northamptonshire, Headingley, 4th day April 23, 2014

Yorks riches give Gale selection quandary


Yorkshire 459 for 9 dec (Ballance 174, Lees 90, Hall 4-103) beat Northamptonshire 94 (Brooks 5-36, Sidebottom 4-16) and 245 (Middlebrook 63, Sidebottom 3-34, Brooks 3-76) by an innings and 120 runs

No one embraces the principle of team before individual more steadfastly than Andrew Gale, Yorkshire's captain, who again finds himself contemplating a looming selection dilemma with the thought that the player least sure of his place probably ought to be him.

It was in his mind, just as it was in June of last year, after Yorkshire completed a comprehensive demolition of promoted Northamptonshire at Headingley and he began to ponder how to accommodate Joe Root for next Sunday's match against Middlesex at Lord's, with the return of Tim Bresnan and Jonny Bairstow now on the cards for the match against Durham that begins the following weekend.

Last season, it was a lack of form and some technical issues that brought him to the brink of dropping himself (although he did not, ultimately, and rewarded himself and the team by making 272 against Nottinghamshire at Scarborough). This time, although he says he feels comfortable with his game, it is lack of practice, after a pre-season spent off the field nursing a hip injury. In three innings so far, Gale has 48 runs

"There are a few selection issues," he said. "I haven't thought too much about it, but I'm obviously the one who hasn't got any runs over in my last three knocks. Do I leave myself out or not? It's a decision myself, Jason and Martyn Moxon have to make.

"I said last year I was not frightened about leaving myself out for the sake of the team. I think it would be a brave decision, but it would also send a good message to the squad that if you're in the runs, you deserve your place in the side no matter who you are.

"It is frustrating. My record as captain speaks for itself. But I didn't have a pre-season and it was always going to be tough coming out of the blocks without playing a single game since January, when I was in Australia."

As dilemmas go, though, Yorkshire could be facing worse. This one merely reflects the strength of their squad, blessed with not only three - potentially four - players likely to be spending good parts of the summer on England duty, but with a bunch of Under-19s pushing to be noticed as well.

Gary Ballance, along with Root, must surely be one of those required by the senior England side. Since his Test debut in England's last five-day match, he has done nothing at all to justify being omitted and in his 174 here, the innings that set the match up for Yorkshire, Gale reckoned he saw evidence that the Zimbabwe-born left-hander is a better player for his Ashes experience, particularly against the short ball.

"Last year he was a guy who just worked the ball off his hips or ducked out of the way," Gale said. "Now he has the authority to be able to pull back of a length or a short ball, hitting sixes, that shows how much he has improved against the short ball and with him being a back-foot player on the whole I think he is well suited to Test cricket."

Ballance did not take the field on Wednesday but an X-ray confirmed that the finger he damaged attempting to take a low catch in the slips on day three is not broken. He will therefore play at Lord's, possibly even as captain if Gale does decide to be ruthless with himself.

Ruthless was the word that best summed up Yorkshire's performance against Northants, who produced some belatedness defiance when David Murphy and Azharullah, their last-wicket pair, resisted for 48 minutes in adding 50 runs, the visitors' second biggest partnership in the match.

Even so, victory was complete before the scheduled lunch interval. The six wickets were shared between five different bowlers and Jack Brooks finished with 8 for 112 against his former county, giving him career-best match figures.

Northants suffered heavily on two counts. With no replacement yet for Trent Copeland, their joint leading wicket-taker with 45 in 2013, and David Willey, who also took 45, unable to bowl, they were at an obvious disadvantage, although coach David Ripley offered no excuses.

"Pretty bluntly, they bowled better than us, they batted better than us and they caught better than us and that's a good recipe for coming second in a two-horse race," he said. "We played well against Durham in the opening game but we have been reminded here that if you have a bad session it puts you on the back foot and we had more than one bad session."

With scarcely a full XI of fit players currently available, Ripley said that the loan market is being looked at as one way to strengthen his hand while the search for an overseas player, after deals for Jackson Bird and then Rory Kleinveldt fell through because of injury issues, could be concluded in time for the match against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge on May 11.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 24, 2014, 19:33 GMT

    Yorkshire-86, care to explain your theory about an all seem attack not working to the West Indies sides of the sixties, seventies and eighties. I'm pretty sure they could do with a laugh. Best not to mention it to the other players of that era though, they still have flashbacks.

  • Paulo on April 24, 2014, 10:28 GMT

    @Yorkshire86 Re 4 front-line seamers I'd hope our seamers are better than the Indian ones in the game you mentioned. especially with the likes of Anderson, Onions and Broad, compared to Ishant Sharma and Co. as for WT20 Dernbach and Bresnan were 2 of the seamers so of course it didn't work.

    re.Borthwick he bowls some dross but takes wickets and scored 1000 runs last year so is an improved batsman.

    Also I mentioned a team if a proper spinner is needed.

  • Alistair on April 24, 2014, 9:25 GMT

    Great call on Sidebottom's figures below. Very impressive stats from a guy who served England well too for a time. Respect for a really good cricketer.

  • Andrew on April 24, 2014, 8:04 GMT

    Leave Yorkshire players playing for Yorkshire - i for one don't give a hoot about England and their mickey mouse test cricket.

  • Mark on April 24, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    This Yorkshire team looks useful. Comprehensive destruction of a fighting Northants unit. Will beat better sides than Northants too. Look like real Championship contenders.

    Still not sure about Ballance as a Test player in the short term. It would be nice to say that we don't need him. Moeen Ali and Joe Root are both good bats who can also bowl decent spin - Moeen is close to being a genuine spinning all-rounder. With both in the side, scoring runs too, we would not miss having a Swann or a Monty so much.

  • Android on April 24, 2014, 1:27 GMT

    what are your thoughts on this test team 1.cook 2.Robson3.bell.4.taylor.5.ballance.6.root.7.prior.8.stokes.9.broad.10.anderson.11.onions. and if pitch looks favorable to spin drop seamer with worse form for kerrigan or panasar

  • Dummy4 on April 23, 2014, 23:12 GMT

    I'd go with Atherton (1992), Gooch (C) (1990), Gatting (1987), Lamb (1984), Hick (1995), Flintoff (2005) Stewart (K) (1999) Broad (2011) Swann (2009) Jones (2005) and Anderson (2010)

    That tells me how bad the bowling was until recently and how average the batting is these days.

    Recent batting for all test teams seem to revel in flat tracks, oversized bats, bowling restrictions, a dearth of quick bowling, a dearth of quality spin, shorter boundaries, better safety gear and a general move to the batting friendly Kookaburra ball - and have inflated averages to show for it.

  • Dummy4 on April 23, 2014, 22:21 GMT

    Personally I hope England stick to the tried-and-found-wanting selections of the likes of Bopara and Morgan and leave Ballance with Yorkshire. Peter Moores will undoubtedly favour Buttler over Bairstow, they may as well look to the future with the likes of Stokes rather than Bresnan so that's only Joe Root that Yorkshire have to give up, and in Lees and Lyth we have cover at opener.

  • Mark on April 23, 2014, 19:33 GMT

    Well done Yorkshire. A good win despite the weather gods trying to conspire against us.

    We can't win with England can we? When they take our players we moan and we have to make do with developing another youngster in Lees. When they send them back, we moan as we might have to drop the skipper.

    Will be tough on someone for next match but at some stage we could be without Root, Ballance, Bresnan and Williamson. I agree Bairstow should be left to play for Yorkshire this summer

  • George on April 23, 2014, 19:11 GMT

    The man you forgot to mention, who took 7-50 in this match & whose first class career average is now under 25 - Ryan Sidebottom take a bow. So pleased to see the big man still taking wickets.

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