JASON GILLESPIE has defended the contrived declaration which saw Yorkshire and Middlesex produce a thrilling climax to the County Championship season.
Responding on Twitter to criticism of the tactics, which saw Yorkshire serve up joke bowling to facilitate a fourth-innings run-chase, Gillespie stressed it was for the good of the game.
After gifting Middlesex 120 runs in 8.5 overs, Yorkshire were dismissed for 178 in pursuit of an agreed target of 240 as the hosts clinched the Championship at Lord’s.
“I find it incredible that people will question our game (on Friday),” tweeted Gillespie, who was presiding over his final match as first-team coach.
“Two teams striving for a result. That’s what it’s about! #greatcricket.”
One comment on Gillespie’s Twitter timeline said that the situation “smells”, referencing the fact that there was a third-party involved, Somerset, who would have been champions had the match at Lord’s been drawn.
But with Middlesex and Yorkshire both needing to win to take the prize, hence the contrivance, Gillespie hit back: “Garbage. We played to win, as did Middlesex. All within the laws of the game, hence the so-called spirit of the game.”
Gillespie went on to insist that the priority was “to entertain the people who part with their hard-earned ££”, and he insisted that Somerset would have done exactly the same thing.
He told another critic: “You are questioning the integrity of Yorkshire and Middlesex. For what? Trying to win? Embarrassing. Go away.”
The tactics at Lord’s might not have been to everyone’s taste, but it would clearly have been absurd for the teams to have let the match peter out and hand the title to Somerset on a plate.
A more sensible avenue for discussion might centre on the typically unsatisfactory nature of the Lord’s pitch, which did little to facilitate a positive outcome, and indeed pitches in general.
For Gillespie, it was a fitting finish to an exciting season, even though his team missed out on a third straight title.
“From a pure entertainment point of view, it was about as good as it gets,” he said.
“Sure, we were on the wrong side of it, but that happens.
“I’m a huge fan of county cricket, and I think it’s in really good shape.
“The administrators are working really hard to try and improve the game, and I think we just need to put a little bit of faith in them, a little bit of trust in them, because they want what’s best for English cricket as well.”
The decision to produce a winner at Lord’s has also met with a mixed reaction with a number of Yorkshire supporters writing to The Yorkshire Post to tell us what they thought.
Here is a snapshot of their views:
From: Norman Hazell, Sandal, Wakefield
While there was great excitement on the last day of the County Championship season, I was disappointed that, having failed to bowl out Middlesex, Yorkshire chose to turn the match into a farce with ‘joke’ bowling.
After that there was only going to be one winner (and so it proved) with Middlesex bowling flat out against our unreliable batsmen. My sympathy was all with Somerset (a draw at Lord’s would have given them the title).
Incidentally, I wonder if our board will be strong enough to deal with a player who refused to take part in this match.
From: Terry Kelly, email
In my view, what happened at Lord’s was not just against the spirit of cricket but against the spirit of competitive sport.
I was enthralled by a wonderful match for three-and- a-half days but it descended into farce.
It was the worst thing I have ever seen on a cricket pitch. The sight of Alex Lees bowling like a four-year-old on Filey beach, fielders running alongside the ball and Yorkshire staff acting as ball-boys was awful.
As a Yorkshire member, I am livid. I don’t wish to win the Championship in such circumstances and neither do I wish to see Somerset robbed.
I can’t think how angry Somerset’s supporters must be at losing out on the title in such a way.
From: David Butterfield, one angry ex-Yorkshire follower.
Quite how The Yorkshire Post cricket correspondent Chris Waters can describe events at Lord’s (the title-decider between Middlesex and Yorkshire) as being county cricket at its finest is beyond my comprehension.
As a 67-year-old cricket fanatic and Yorkshire follower – despite being a Lincolnshire yellow-belly – I feel nothing but contempt at the final day’s events.
To see a Middlesex batsman deliberately pat the ball back to a Yorkshire non-bowler and give his wicket away summed up the whole situation – a total farce, and all this at the most sacred of cricket grounds in the world.
Could you ever imagine the likes of Geoffrey Boycott or Sir Garfield Sobers showing the game such disrespect?
The whole essence of sport is that you always try your hardest, and if you can’t win you do everything possible to prevent your opponent from doing so.
Obviously, in my mind, the two captains at Lord’s decided that Somerset were not going to win the Championship and contrived an artificial result (Middlesex winning and taking the title).
In any other sport, these two teams would be hauled before the authorities and severely punished.
If the ECB let this go without taking any action the game will be tarnished for good.
From: Peter Tummons, email
Yorkshire’s participation in the contrived result at Lord’s was shameful. Their actions handed the Championship to Middlesex.
The victory target for Yorkshire was never possible and their use of ‘joke’ bowlers in Middlesex’s second innings was a disgrace.
For his acquiescence in this travesty, Andrew Gale should resign as Yorkshire’s captain and I shall not renew my membership.
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