Yorkshire CCC will be fit and firing once cricket returns, vows Andrew Gale

ANDREW GALE is confident that Yorkshire’s cricketers will hit the ground running when the action resumes, citing England’s Jonny Bairstow as an example of how players can quickly get back in the saddle.
Like a kid at christmas: Yorkshire first-team coach Andrew Gale was back in the nets at Headingley earlier this week, putting the England batsmen through their paces. (Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWPix.com)Like a kid at christmas: Yorkshire first-team coach Andrew Gale was back in the nets at Headingley earlier this week, putting the England batsmen through their paces. (Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWPix.com)
Like a kid at christmas: Yorkshire first-team coach Andrew Gale was back in the nets at Headingley earlier this week, putting the England batsmen through their paces. (Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWPix.com)

“Before this week, ‘Bluey’ hadn’t hit a ball since February,” said Gale, the Yorkshire first XI coach who is helping Bairstow and the club’s England players get ready for the international summer.

“His first 20 balls, on Monday, he was naturally quite rusty. But, by the end of the session, he was back to his best. So much so, he looked as if he could walk straight out and play a Test match.”

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With England’s campaign due to start on July 8 with a behind-closed-doors three-match Test series against the West Indies, Gale is hoping that the planned August return of county cricket and a truncated Championship and T20 Blast gets the green light.

Yorkshire's Tom Kohler-Cadmore part of the training group at Headingley under Andrew Gale (Picture: SWPix.com)Yorkshire's Tom Kohler-Cadmore part of the training group at Headingley under Andrew Gale (Picture: SWPix.com)
Yorkshire's Tom Kohler-Cadmore part of the training group at Headingley under Andrew Gale (Picture: SWPix.com)
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It will challenge a Yorkshire squad that remains on furlough, both skillswise and physically, but Gale is backing his players to cope.

“It’s amazing how quickly players pick it back up,” he said. “Playing cricket is obviously second nature, and they’re chomping at the bit to get back on the park.

“I think the hardest thing will be the physical side of it, particularly for the bowlers going from nothing to having to bowl 25-30 overs a week – maybe more if there’s Championship cricket.

Yorkshire's David Willey part of the England training group at Headingley under Andrew Gale (Picture: Getty Images)Yorkshire's David Willey part of the England training group at Headingley under Andrew Gale (Picture: Getty Images)
Yorkshire's David Willey part of the England training group at Headingley under Andrew Gale (Picture: Getty Images)
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“If there’s only a four-week build-up, say, before the start of our season, the bowlers would have to get up to speed pretty quickly whereas normally, we’re talking six-to-eight weeks to get to that stage, even lads going from Christmas to April to properly prepare.”

Gale believes injuries are perhaps inevitable. There is no substitute for overs in a bowler’s legs and proper cricket work, but with the sport facing multi-million pound losses due to coronavirus, and with everyone anxious for the show to start up, preparation time will clearly be limited.

“You’re probably looking at quite a few injuries,” added Gale. “We’ve seen that already in the Bundesliga, for instance. There’s been a lot more soft tissue injuries there but, you know what, it is what it is and if players get injured, they get injured. It’s not ideal, but it is the reality.”

Yorkshire are better placed than most to cope with any absences, possessing one of the largest and most versatile squads on the circuit. “Having a big squad should help us,” said Gale. “Clubs on a shoestring who have only got squads of 16-20 might find it difficult if they have a few injuries.

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“We’ve got a squad of 30-plus players, so we’ll be able to deal with that. We’ll have to have some rotation, but it’s hard to know yet what the schedule will be.”

Uncertainty is wreaking havoc with Gale’s preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it (the season), but it’s wasted energy because you just don’t know what it’s going to look like,” he said.

“Three weeks ago it looked like we weren’t going to play at all. Now we might play some T20 and some Championship cricket amongst it, but nothing’s been finalised.

“Even though I’ve been on furlough myself, I’ve been wanting to think ahead and try and plan because that’s what I’m like. But when you don’t know what you’re planning for it’s very difficult, so I’m hoping we’ll get a little bit of direction over the next few weeks – a draft schedule and draft fixtures and what it might look like.”

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Gale signed up as an NHS volunteer at the height of the crisis but was one of those who did not receive any work such were the huge offers of public support.

He has been busy helping to home-school his young children and is simply delighted to be coaching again; Gale is also working with Yorkshire batsman Dawid Malan this week and will then assist the other Yorkshire players in England’s 55-man training squad: Adil Rashid, David Willey and Tom Kohler-Cadmore.

“I must admit, getting back into it again this week, on Sunday night I was a bit like a kid on Christmas Eve,” said Gale.

“You’re thinking, ‘I can’t wait to get back, the weather’s great, I can finally get back to doing my job and get outside.’

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“Throwing (the ball) at the lads at the ground, it was cracking the flags and hearing that ball-hitting-the-willow sound echoing around the ground, it was really nice. It’s just great to get back to doing what you love, being around a couple of the lads and support staff again.”

Strict guidelines are in place at Headingley and at all grounds used by England for training.

“You’ve got to park in a certain place,” said Gale, “you’re only allowed a certain way into the ground and out of the ground. It’s all very different.

“We’ve been inside a bit as well on the bowling machine and I had to wear a face mask and gloves.

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“The lads can’t pick the balls up, so I’ve got to pick all the balls up, disinfect the balls in between each session, and so on. The lads have also been given their own fielding balls.

“Everyone’s been given thermometers as well, and you have to fill an app in on a morning, a survey to give your temperature and how you’re feeling. A lot of it is just commonsense, but we’re all just happy to be back in amongst it.”

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