YORKSHIRE first-team coach Andrew Gale believes that his former captaincy role is one that clearly suits his successor, Gary Ballance.
The 27-year-old took over the reins from Gale as skipper at the beginning of the season and despite a tough opening defeat to leaders Hampshire in the County Championship Division One, has stamped his mark on the team.
The England international has scored more than 1,000 runs in all formats, putting the White Rose in striking distance of top spot in the Championship and into the quarter-final play-offs of the Royal London One-Day Cup.
Gale feels that Ballance’s leadership skills and tactical abilities have really come to fore in recent matches and that, coupled with his run-making skills, has made him a stand-out player. Gale said: “He has tactically done well.
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“He is a different character, not quite as heart-on-sleeve as I was, but when he speaks to the dressing room he talks very well.
“The big question at the start of the season was, can he score runs and lead the side and he has done that a lot better than I could have done.”
Ballance has struck three centuries and averages 101.66 with the bat in the County Championship this season.
Such form has heightened the prospect of Ballance making a return to the England fold sooner rather than later – something that Gale has always had in the back of his mind, but a situation he and the rest of the Headingley management team planned for when making their appointment.
He is a different character, not quite as heart-on-sleeve as I was, but when he speaks to the dressing room he talks very well.Andrew Gale on Yorkshire captain, Gary Ballance.
Gale said: “We knew from the outset that it would always be a risk picking Gary as captain as there is always an outside chance that he would be picked for England. But we do have plans in place if he does get picked.”
England involvement has, once again, caused an interference with Yorkshire’s selection in the opening three months of the season.
But Gale was full of praise for the younger players in the Yorkshire squad who have stepped up and grasped their opportunity.
Ben Coad’s 31 County Championship wickets have been the standout from among the young performers, but the likes of Matthew Fisher and Matthew Waite have also made valuable contributions when called upon.
Gale said: “Players such as Matthew Waite and Matthew Fisher are all chomping at the bit to get involved.
“The second team’s going really well and they are all pushing for places.”
Yorkshire’s trip to Taunton today to face Somerset kick-starts a busy month for the White Rose, with that aforementioned quarter-final play-off taking place against Surrey at Headingley on Tuesday.
“It’s almost like a mini-season in itself,” added Gale. “But we’re not going to use that as an excuse. We’ve been there before, but we’ve got to rest and recover as well as we can for the big quarter-final. We want to win silverware.”