LOOKING at our start to the season in the County Championship, I’d say it’s been a solid enough opening, especially considering the players we have been missing.
We missed seven players and myself for the first game of the season. The players who have come in have done reallly well and it has set a real solid platform for the season.
We are probably going to have four England lads back for our next County Championship game with Hampshire and they will be big additions.
But it shows the strength that we have got that the people who have come in have done a fantastic job.
Even this week, you look at James Middlebrook coming into the team and taking eight wickets in the game. I am not sure many teams would lose seven players and still be competing with the best sides in the league.
I have been in constant contact with Midders for a while and we already had bringing him in up our sleeve if we needed it.
We wanted to give young Karl Carver a chance first because that is how we do things at Yorkshire in terms of giving young players an opportunity.
But we just felt it was too much too soon for Karl. He’s only 18 and playing first-class cricket as a spinner at this time of year, is very tough.
We thought it might do him more damage in the long run if we kept playing him. He hasn’t actually played that much second-team cricket either so we thought it would be better for him to get some second XI games under his belt to get some experience.
I rang Midders on the way back from our game at Trent Bridge and asked him the question about him coming in and playing one game for us before Adil comes back from the West Indies and he jumped at the opportunity.
He certainly didn’t let anyone down and showed his experience. Taking eight wickets in the game was a fantastic effort. If that is his last game in first-class cricket, what a way to go out.
Looking at the Warwickshire game, it was a good solid draw really. We were behind the eight-ball for most of the game really and fighting our way back in and at tea on the last day, we thought we had a sniff.
The plan was for me and Pujara to bat as normal at four an over for ten overs and then leave us eight wickets to have a dart at 270-odd.
But we lost Pujara after tea and I went four or five overs later and it killed the chase.
I think they were a bit conservative in terms of setting up the run chase. It was not the way that we play our cricket. For me, you have got to be prepared to lose in order to win a game, really.
It’s a sign of how teams are going to play against us. We have seen it a few times this year and teams seem defensive against us and will continue to be as we are the champions.
First and foremost, they don’t want to lose to us and the record we have got at Headingley is there to see for two years and teams are frightened of what we will chase down because of the positive way that we play.
I made 96 in the first innings and I was happy with my contribution, although naturally disappointed not to get three figures. But the main thing is we got 300 and that extra batting point and avoided the follow-on. Had we not, there was one side who were ever going to win the game.
I have got to mention the contributions that Jack Brooks and Steve Patterson made with the bat down the order. They really helped us get past that follow-on mark.
Tim Bresnan took a five-for and bowled well and he’s had a good start to the season with bat and ball.
There’s not many all-rounders in the country who can make match-winning contributions like Bres can and change a game with bat and ball and I am really pleased for him, with his start.
He has worked really hard in the winter on his action on getting a little bit closer to the stumps and he’s starting to swing the ball again and he is getting his rewards.
With the amount of cricket England have got in the next year or so, there are not going to keep being able to play Broad and Anderson at full tilt in all the Test matches they have got.
If they have got people like Bresy in the wings, that can only be good. If they give him a chance, they know exactly what they are going to get from him. He won’t let anyone down.
***Andrew Gale’s column is in association with Blacks Solicitors***