Yorkshire CCC: Confidence is high and we must keep focused on our goals – Gale

Kane Williamson.

Kane Williamson.

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We’re still top of the pile at the minute in Division One the County Championship, but know it can change pretty fast.

It’s going to be a decent run-in. There’s still a few teams in the hunt who, given a couple of wins, can put themselves right in the mix.

But we are not really worried about what other teams are doing. We are just concentrating on our own game and getting the processes right. If we do that, everything else will look after itself.

We recently had eight days at Scarborough and it was a really important week in the scheme of things, given what was up for grabs in the one-day competition and the County Championship, where we have kept the pressure on at the top.

To come out with two out of three wins represented a really good week and has given us a lot of confidence moving forward.

Going into the final day against Sussex, we knew it was not going to be easy as the pitch was still good. Sussex were quite resilient too, but we held our nerve throughout the day and knew if we got one or two, that it would happen very quickly from there.

It was pleasing in the respect that we kept our nerve.

I know there were fears about the weather on the last day, but rain was not forecast until about six o’clock. In that last hour and a half, it did look a little bit like it was going to rain, but with us only needing 100, I think we could have gone through the gears as quickly as we wanted really.

We kept in touch with the groundsman and made sure we knew what he thought. But we had a plan in place – but luckily the ‘weather’ did not come until after the game.

I think it was actually a more rewarding win than the Middlesex one, because we were tested at times.

We did well to bowl them out for 320 and to then be 5-2 and make 480-odd was a really good effort in terms of fighting back and then being in a commanding position in the game. That showed where we are at as a team at the minute.

Kane Williamson obviously got his first century in the County Championship for us and it was an outstanding knock. That is what you want from an overseas player; it’s at times like now when you need them to step up and grab the game by the scruff of the neck.

The knock had been coming for a while. People may have previously been saying ‘When is he going to get his first hundred?’, but he has been very consistent since he came without making that match-winning score. Kane probably felt like he wanted to make that score and I am glad it came for him because he has been great to have around the dressing room and he’s a very mature, level-headed character.

I have said before that technically he is one of the best batters I have ever worked with, so it was good to see him make a big score.

Obviously, the club have announced that Azeem Rafiq is to leave at the end of the season and looking at it, he’s been living in Adil’s (Rashid) shadow for the past few years now.

But he has still been a great player for us over the years in Twenty20 cricket and at one stage, he did push Adil out of the side when we got promotion and had a fantastic season a few years back.

But now is probably time for him to move on and get some more first-team opportunities elsewhere.

I remain a big fan of Azeem and he did an exceptional job as captain in T20 when I was injured out of the side. He’s a mature guy and it will be disappointing to see him leave the club, but we wish him well and hope he does well somewhere else.

Looking at the recent Test series between England and India, it has been fantastic to see how it has turned around and gone for Alastair Cook.

He was always going to come good at some stage and it’s good that the ECB stuck by him and backed him.

In terms of the series, I am surprised at the way India crumbled, to be honest. I would have thought they would have been a bit more resilient.

I have been impressed in the way all the Yorkie lads went in the series. Liam Plunkett played his part, despite getting injured in the latter end of the series, while Ballance and Root have been two of the in-form guys in the series, particularly Rooty.

Obviously he is now in the current top 10 of Test batsmen in the world and it’s a great accolade. Looking at Joe’s age, he is still very young and the way he has adapted his game already in Test cricket has been so impressive and he has worked things out pretty quickly.

He’s a hard worker and has put his practice into game situations and is getting his rewards now.

***Our exclusive Andrew Gale column is in association with Blacks Solicitors***