County news March 30, 2016

Gale backs Yorkshire's own to conquer 'hardest task'

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The standard of the County Championship may be higher than ever, but Yorkshire will continue to back their own as they bid for a third successive title.

While Surrey and Somerset have recently signed experienced international players - Ravi Rampaul and Yasir Arafat respectively - on Kolpak registrations, Andrew Gale insists Yorkshire have no need for such "panic" despite facing "the hardest year we've had".

And Gale, the Yorkshire captain, believes the policy of backing homegrown players breeds confidence in the squad and helps build a team spirit that can prove crucial over the course of a draining season.

Yorkshire were without six first-choice players at the start of the 2015 season - all were part of the England squad in the Caribbean - but, over recent seasons, they have made a habit of providing opportunities to young players. Matt Fisher, who made his first-class debut as a 17-year-old, is tipped by Gale to be the breakthrough player of the season, while Alex Lees, aged only 22, is now established as the club's captain in white ball cricket.

"It just says panic stations, really, at this time of the year to go out and sign players," Gale told ESPNcricinfo.

"It's not something we want to do at Yorkshire. We back our own players. We put a lot of time and effort into our academy and we have a history of bringing players right though from grassroots to Test cricket and that's the route we will continue to go down.

"We missed six players at the start of last season but we don't see that as a negative. We embrace that. It creates an opportunity for someone else to come in to the side. Lads see that opportunity and want to grasp it.

"We think the togetherness of the team and going out with as many Yorkshire men as we can gives us an edge. There is a massive togetherness in that dressing room when players see the likes of Matthew Fisher and Will Rhodes grasp that opportunity. It creates a confidence in the young players that they could be the next cab off the rank. We want to continue to do that."

Winning a third successive title - now named the Specsavers County Championship after a change of sponsor - will not prove easy. Not only is it inevitable that Yorkshire will continue to be hit by more England call-ups, but it appears the standard of the opposition may have improved.

For the first time, there are eight Test-hosting grounds in the top division, meaning, as Gale reasons, that each of them has the financial resources to mount a sustained challenge on the title.

"I believe it's the strongest division that I've seen for a long time," Gale said. "You usually get a team who has scraped up. No disrespect to Derbyshire or Worcester, but their aim coming into the season is probably to stay in the first division.

"With Surrey and Lancashire coming up, they are probably aiming to win the County Championship. And there is no reason why not: they have the resources compared to a club that's running on a shoestring.

"We believe it's going to be the hardest year that we've had. The division looks as strong as it's ever been.

"Warwickshire will be strong. They've as strong a squad as I've seen. They have always been strong with their bowling, but have struggled for runs at times. Now they have got Bell and Trott, possibly for most of the season, they will be a good side."

Andrew Gale reasserted Yorkshire's commitment to player development as they chase a third straight title © Getty Images

But Gale remains positive. With most of their England players back for the opening weeks of the campaign - although Joe Root is likely to be rested for at least the first two rounds of games and Tim Bresnan has an Achilles injury that could keep him out for a month - and David Willey joining to add depth to the bowling, he knows his team have the chance to write themselves into Yorkshire folklore if they pull off a third successive triumph.

"We're confident and positive," Gale said. "But we can take nothing for granted. We've won two championships, but that counts for nothing at the start of the season. But if we win three championships in a row, we'll go down with the legends of Yorkshire cricket."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Roshan_P on April 2, 2016, 11:58 GMT

    @nursery_ender - Bitter at all? Every county has players that aren't from their own county. Yorkshire is no exception but it is a fact that we have more home-grown players in our squad than any other county by far. In fact we could happily field an XI of home-grown players from the Academy, provided we had our England players back. What other county could say that? None of them. Instead of buying average players like Arafat and Rampaul who will be good for the short-term, we've decided to focus on developing players like Fisher. He will take some time to be ready but he is incredibly talented. The fact that you mention Vaughan (who moved to Sheffield at a young age and considers himself a Yorkshireman), Ballance and Plunkett is ridiculous. Ballance and Plunkett got their chance through Yorkshire and they developed in to the players they are at Yorkshire. Vaughan played all his cricket in Yorkshire and came through the Academy. The fact that he was born in Manchester is irrelevant.

  • templar51 on April 1, 2016, 16:11 GMT

    @NURSERY_ENDER Given the likelihood that 'Yorkshire' players of whom you are so 'jaundiced' in your opinions may not be available due to England selection , injury or squad rotation , there is a strong possibility that Yorkshire will, on occasions , field a full Yorkshire born team. And they are more than likely to win the match.

    The 'strong Yorkshire' adage still holds true when you consider how many players who started their careers with Yorkshire are contributing to other Counties. The Yorkshire 2nd XI are the England players of the future.

  • exiledtyke on March 31, 2016, 20:46 GMT

    @NURSERY_ENDER

    you are right that Yorkshire have recruited outside the county more in recent times. I would have prefered to see someone from the Academy like Shaw or Wainman be given a chance ahead of signing the likes of Willey. It's not quite as clear cut as you make it. Plunkett was born in Yorkshire but given his chance by Durham before coming back to his native county. Yorkshire. Ballance was on Derbyshire's books but never played a 1st class game for them. He came to Yorkshire and played for the Academy. His 1st class debut was for Yorkshire before he played in Zimbabwe.

  • nursery_ender on March 31, 2016, 15:56 GMT

    Yorkshire's own? Would that be Willey and Brooks produced by Northants? Ballance produced by Derbyshire/Zimbabwe? Plunkett produced by Durham? Hodd produced by Sussex? Long gone are the days of fielding 11 Yorkshiremen (or 10 Yorkshiremen and the Mancunian-born Michael Vaughan)

  • templar51 on March 31, 2016, 15:21 GMT

    WEREYORKSHIRE

    A good stab at what might be Yorkshire's best team but , as last year , there will be a fair amount of rotation of players , particularly , pace bowlers. [Root only played 1 game - T20 -last year] Patterson will have plenty of games and will no doubt acquit himself as well as he usually does. Fisher is subject to ECB regulation because of his age but he will be in the mix when he is available. In addition , there are 6 other capped 2nd XI players who will come into the running, especially Will Rhodes and Jack Leaning, both of whom played a large number of games last season. No doubt , as usual , Yorkshire will have a few 'gems' in the Academy team to bring forward. Yorkshire will not be just looking at 2016 but the next three years. This forward planning will also be to England's benefit.

  • Nutcutlet on March 31, 2016, 13:58 GMT

    There's one of the oldest of all cricketing adages regarding Yorkshire - and it's as true today as it ever was: a strong Yorkshire is a strong England. I am looking forward to the coming season with tremendous interest because it is certain that Yorkshire's bench strength is going to be tested to the max. I can see that Warwickshire will mount a formidable challenge, with Surrey (my county - although I now live in a Lancashire exile) likely to surprise a few counties along the way. Wishful thinking aside, I think that any county atop of Yorkshire will win the title. Lancashire will feel pleased with anywhere away from the drop zone!

  • Cricinfouser on March 31, 2016, 11:27 GMT

    Fair call on Patterson but what about Fisher? And who are you leaving out? Also, Willey will want to push his first class credentials.

    Also need to remember that it's 20 wickets that win matches and not just buckets of runs.

    An exciting, extremely tough and competitive season awaits. I can't wait and look forward my beloved Yorkshire being the first team to win three back to back titles since, oh yes, Yorkshire in 1968.

  • southderbystyke on March 31, 2016, 8:06 GMT

    Wereyorkshire, that's not a bad XI but you have got to find a place for Steven Patterson in our strongest championship team.

  • Dumbo on March 31, 2016, 6:25 GMT

    James, i believe you are correct. wereyorkshire, I'd be amazed if that side plays together even once. but, yes it probably would beat most test sides.

  • Lmaotsetung on March 31, 2016, 4:28 GMT

    Warks definitely with a shot now that Bell is back full time. I fully expect Sam Hain to hit that next level and Woakes seem to have recovered from injury and should be available for most matches seeing as he didn't do enough to secure his place during the SA tour.

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