Gale ends lean run but concerns persist

Lancashire 494 (Hameed 114, Clark 84*, Procter 79, Bresnan 3-80, Brooks 3-81) and 70 for 0 lead Yorkshire 360 (Lees 85, Gale 83, Jarvis 4-70, Kerrigan 3-91) by 204 runs

At 9.45 on the third morning of this match the Yorkshire cricketer, Andrew Gale, strolled back to the away dressing room from the Old Trafford nets. His body cast a clear, sharp shadow as he walked across the outfield. With his batting gloves and helmet wedged neatly under his arm and the bat held rather like a lance in hand, Gale cut a faintly chivalric figure as he glanced across to the square where he has played on many occasions. Yorkshire's skipper is an old warrior, though, and these lists hold many memories for him, not all of them congenial. "O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms…?" Rather a lot, since you ask.

This has been not only a tough season for Gale but also a slightly strange one for his county. And even though he made 83, his highest score of the season, and Yorkshire avoided the follow-on, neither of those trends were lobbed out of kilter on a Monday when the cricket was watched by a good-sized crowd including - ECB panjandrums, please note - a large number of schoolchildren.

Gale wanted a hundred but fell 17 short and County Championships are not won by sides battling to concede deficits of less than 150. By the close, Tom Smith and Haseeb Hameed had extended Lancashire's 134-run first-innings lead to 204, Hameed stroking quite lovely boundaries to the cover and midwicket boundaries. While Middlesex were thrashing Durham on Monday evening, Yorkshire will almost certainly be batting two sessions or so to save the Roses match on Tuesday. Beating Nottinghamshire at Scarborough next week is looking a necessity.

Moreover, while Yorkshire are the only team with a chance of winning all three trophies, their club captain, who has played only four-day games, has struggled in his quest for big runs. Gale has netted for numberless hours and declared himself in decent nick. He has played second-team cricket on slow pitches like that at Derbyshire's Belper Meadows in an effort to get the scores that would justify his view. Yet he began this 269th Roses match with 327 Championship runs in the bank at an average of 19.23.

For much of the first session, it seemed as though Gale was going to find his grail in a place as strange as Trafford. Resuming on 136 for 2, he and Alex Lees were already well set on a wicket containing few obvious ogres and they had added another 47 runs in 75 minutes before Lees was leg before to Kyle Jarvis for a hard-worked 85 when playing across a ball that held its line.

Gale was batting well. His style is unlikely to inspire sonnets but he has made over eight thousand runs, so who gives a damn? There had been a cheery clump to the boundary off Jarvis long-hop and a fine drive over mid-on off Simon Kerrigan. In the first hour of the morning he added 20 runs to his overnight 36 and he had faced a Lancashire attack emboldened by their first-innings total of 594. So emboldened, indeed that one or two home players had made observations to Gale which required the brief intercession of the umpires, Paul Baldwin and David Millns. After his infamous contretemps with Ashwell Prince, Yorkshire's captain has almost certainly had enough of conversations with Lancashire players on the Old Trafford outfield.

For most of the second hour of Monday's play, Gale was partnered by 24-year-old Melburnian Jake Lehmann, who was playing his first innings for the county. Rather than resembling his father, Darren, in any particular way, Lehmann sports a rather natty moustache vaguely reminiscent of Edwardian England. So perhaps it was not only the youngster's fine straight boundaries off Jarvis which encouraged the watching Gale. If you are engaged in a battle for Yorkshire's pride, it probably doesn't harm if you're batting with a bloke who looks like FS Jackson.

Notwithstanding such reminders of yet another golden age for White Rose cricket, Gale was out five minutes before lunch when he cut Tom Smith to gully where Simon Kerrigan delightedly took his first catch in that position for Lancashire. There was an annoyed wave of the bat from Gale and a resigned departure. He needs a century, the batsman's litmus test of achievement. It's one more than 99 but it's the one run that everyone notices.

Throughout the morning session Lancashire had been bowling well. Steven Croft's attack was no doubt encouraged by their side's dominance in a fixture they have not won since 2011 and they deserved their successes. In the afternoon more were to follow as Lehmann played on to the excellent Kyle Jarvis after making a quietly impressive 46 off 53 balls. Three balls earlier Rashid had been brilliantly caught by Hameed at short leg off Kerrigan, the ball being clipped crisply at head height where the 19-year-old clutched it in two hands before scampering back to the justifiably astonished bowler.

Lehmann's dismissal left Yorkshire on 272 for 6, 73 short of the follow-on. It is doubtful, of course, whether Croft would have invited Gale to have another bat but it would have been an affront to White Rose honour had he even had the opportunity. The indignity was avoided thanks to a typically determined effort from Andy Hodd who made 43 and had taken his side to within four runs of their first objective when he was brilliantly caught by a diving Liam Livingstone, who sprinted 15 yards from slip before hurling himself forward to take the skied snare off Kerrigan

Eleven overs later Yorkshire were all out for 360 but the innings ended in perhaps unprecedented fashion when Ryan Sidebottom "walked" for a catch at the wicket off Kerrigan. For a few Yorkshire supporters, Lancastrians too, perhaps, it was as though Yorkshire's last man had taken a page from a Shakespeare First Folio and made a paper aeroplane out of it. Most people, of course, call it honesty and it would be interesting to see what cricket might be like if the game's often admirable ethics incorporated such behaviour.