Andrew Gale did eventually get his hands on the Championship trophy. The official ceremony was long since over, the ECB instructions that Yorkshire's captain should be barred from the celebrations had entered a grey area, and his moment could be delayed no longer.

However much the ECB tried to make Gale an outcast after his run-in with Ashwell Prince earlier in the month, only when he grasped the trophy in his right hand and let out a primeval roar was Yorkshire's Championship win complete. Not when Ryan Sidebottom dismissed James Taylor to take his sixth wicket and complete a thumping innings win, not when Joe Root lifted the trophy on Gale's behalf, or the first cries of Yarrksheer rent the air.

But it was not the way he had imagined it would be. It was a roar that echoed with emptiness.

"Is it allowed?" Gale had wondered as he watched his team mates from the balcony of the visitors' dressing room. "Can I do it now?" A captain who for five seasons has poured his last ounce of energy into winning the Championship was left to fret over whether he was allowed to touch the trophy that had been a lifetime's ambition.

By the time the pizzas were delivered to the Yorkshire dressing room at Trent Bridge, six hours after the match had ended, Gale's day turned even bleaker. The ECB pronounced that it was not satisfied his contretemps with Prince had been satisfactorily concluded and that they - which to all intents and purposes means the ECB chairman Giles Clarke - had lodged a formal complaint with the ECB's own Cricket Discipline Committee.

That the ECB has let it come to this looks heavy-handed at best, petty at worst. So far there is not one iota of convincing evidence to suggest this response is justifiable.

A two-match ban for Gale's altercation with Prince, Lancashire's South African batsman, in the Roses match was one thing: he had previous and he rightly paid the penalty. To formally instruct Yorkshire that Gale should have no part in the trophy presentation, to isolate him at the time of his greatest triumph, to leave him fearful even to chat to the media about the season that meant so much to him, and then to demand a further investigation, felt like an overreaction.

So why? The facts are these: Gale had become increasingly incensed by Prince's endless sledging and timewasting at Old Trafford as Yorkshire pushed for victory. Prince told Gale to get back to his fielding position, Gale's retaliation included reference to Prince's Kolpak status and an invitation to get back to his own country. There was a dose of bad language on both sides. Not very charming to be sure and soon brought to the attention of those in high office after the umpires brought a Level 2 charge.

It is the use of the word Kolpak in such derogatory fashion that continues to be presented as Gale's sin and which will now lead to the investigation being reopened with a Level 3 charge potentially the outcome.

The term "Kolpak" - for the uninitiated - is a catch-all term for non-English cricketers who qualify to play in England's domestic competitions by virtue of EU legislation.

ECB officials, from Clarke downwards, have successfully campaigned for their numbers to be reduced. But whenever an ECB official suggested there were too many Kolpaks in English cricket nobody accused them of saying anything untoward - or of offending the good citizens of Kolpakia. The opprobrium levelled against Gale therefore seems random to say the least.

But this is how English cricket officialdom treats the young men who care for the greatest of games on the occasions it decides a lesson must be learned. Young men who believe in cricket's importance, commit their lives to it, spread the word, dream the dreams. Suddenly they are adopted as a symbol of something rotten in the game.

Officialdom grows fat on the game's riches and every now and then makes an empty gesture and congratulates itself it is running a game of moral probity. Clearly, cricket is still a Country for Old Men.

Yorkshire are besides themselves with frustration. Their first Championship win for 13 years is a lesson to English cricket, based as it is on a strong commitment to player development - among all ethnic groups, and extending beyond the privileged classes. Sport for All, just as it should be, a lesson to all concerned. And now it has been sullied.

There is a crisis in county cricket, in international cricket, too. It is the real crisis, one that is not being addressed. It lies in the growing failure of umpires to manage the game. Players' behaviour is no longer controlled effectively, tensions grow, and eventually somebody flips. The ECB knows this and does nothing.

As long as the pretence of good order can be maintained, nobody in officialdom much cares. But every now and then those in High Office take note. Wheels turn within wheels. Punishments are laid down. Further charges laid. Reputations damaged. Self-congratulation abounds. And the illusion that the game is being well managed lives on.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo