CAPTAIN Andrew Gale insists the return to the main business of the County Championship comes at exactly the right time for his Yorkshire side.
The Tykes welcome reigning Division One champions Warwickshire to Headingley tomorrow (11am start), with Gale’s troops still licking their wounds from an unacceptable Friends Life Twenty20 campaign, which saw them embarrassingly prop up the North group table – and record several woeful losses on the way.
Painful end-of-qualification defeats arrived at the hands of Lancashire Lightning and Leicestershire Foxes, with Yorkshire pretty happy to say ‘good riddance’ to the competition in the final analysis.
With their Pro40 hopes also dead, Yorkshire’s sole target – as it has manifestly been all season – is the first division title to mark the county’s 150th anniversary year.
The Warwickshire game is the first of what Gale has described as “five cup finals” for his side, who produced the complete performance to beat the Midlanders at Edgbaston by an innings and 139 runs earlier this season and who are currently seven points clear of Sussex at the top – having played a game less.
Gale, who sat out Yorkshire’s last three t20 games to protect a hand injury ahead of tomorrow’s four-dayer, said: “We have five cup finals left and to be top of the division at this stage of the season in our 150th anniversary is terrific.
“The lads are just excited now and want to see the job through.
“Warwickshire is a massive game for us as they have been going well of late after a sticky start to the season.
“I am sure they will have been hurt when we beat them at their place.
“They have won their last two games and it will be an exciting game.
“I reckon it comes at a good time for us – coming out of Twenty20 cricket, the lads have been a bit down about things and want to get back to first-class cricket now and show people what we are all about and show some character.
“Warwickshire have lots of quality and you don’t win the Championship if you don’t have that. They probably struggled for a bit of form at the start of the season, but they were also going to come good at some stage and now they are starting to put some results together.”
Gale confirmed that senior batsman Phil Jaques’ rehabilitation is going well following a rib injury – and he is expected to return to the fray shortly.
He added: “Phil is coming along nicely in his comeback from injury, although Friday will come a week too soon for him. But he is getting back to fitness and doing quite a bit of gym work now.
“But it is important that when we get him back that he is right for the rest of the season because you don’t want to miss a player of his calibre for too long.”