'Devastated' Gale misses final weeks after ban
On the day when Yorkshire's chances of winning the County Championship moved from the realm of the possible to that of the very probable, captain Andrew Gale has received a two-match ban for his part in an altercation with the Lancashire batsman Ashwell Prince, on the third evening of the Roses match at Old Trafford, which means he will miss the rest of the season.
Gale was aggrieved that Prince was delaying the game at a time when Yorkshire were pressing for a victory and trying to bowl as many overs as possible. He apparently swore at Prince and was reported by the umpires Steve O'Shaughnessy and Steve Garratt.
On the final morning of the game Gale apologised to the Lancashire captain Glen Chapple, who confirmed that while his opposite number had "crossed the line", the game itself, which Yorkshire won by an innings, had "finished on good terms".
By then, however, the wheels of justice had begun to grind extremely quickly and an ECB statement was issued stating that Gale had received an automatic suspension having previously accrued six penalty points for an incident during the earlier Roses match of the season when he had shown dissent. Jason Gillespie, the Yorkshire coach, said Gale was "devastated".
Yorkshire have confirmed that they will not be appealing against the ban. However, Gillespie assessed the significance of the ban for both the club and Gale soon after the game had ended.
"He's our leader, the leader of Yorkshire County Cricket Club," he said. "For him to be missing the last two games is devastating for the man himself. We really feel for him and are disappointed. His season is over and he is quite understandably devastated after such a great win here."
The ECB statement said: "Gale was reported…for a Level Two breach of the directives: using language or gesture that is obscene or of a serious insulting nature to another player, umpire, referee, team official or spectator.
"Gale had previously received six penalty points following a Level Two breach in May 2014. The penalty for a subsequent breach at Level Two within 24 months is six penalty points. Gale has therefore received a total of twelve penalty points, triggering an automatic suspension. He will be suspended from all cricket under the jurisdiction of the ECB until and including Friday, September 27, 2014 - a period which covers Yorkshire's next two first XI fixtures."
On the playing front the suspension may avoid a ticklish selection dilemma for Yorkshire, who are expecting to have Tim Bresnan, Joe Root and Gary Ballance available for the game against Nottinghamshire. Gale dropped himself for the game against Middlesex earlier in the season and he may have fallen on his sword next week too. As it is, the ECB have done the grisly job for him.