Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale has dropped himself for his side’s County Championship match against Middlesex in order to make way for the returning Joe Root.
Root has been out for eight weeks after breaking his thumb on international duty in the West Indies, but on his return to fitness, Gale has unselfishly taken the decision to put Root – and indeed, England’s – needs above his own.
The White Rose will also be looking to make the most of Root in a rare spell where he is not with England, with whom the young batsman is bidding to earn a central contract but still has much to do.
Gale has admittedly not made the strongest of starts to the new season, making just 13 in his side’s thrashing of Northamptonshire. That followed a combined total of 35 in his two innings against Somerset, but his removal from the side was certainly not something Yorkshire fans would have been expecting.
At Headingley, Gale’s move may well be met with admiration and bemusement in equal proportion. In a game that could turn out to be crucial for Yorkshire’s title chances come the end of the season, why England’s needs must come above those of the county is a question that will certainly be asked.
From the outside, it would appear that for all Gale’s chivalry, there is more to his decision not to play than a simple ‘gentleman’s code’ that still permeates around the grounds of domestic cricket. It is far from inconceivable that Gale might have come under pressure from Yorkshire chairman Colin Graves, who relies on the ECB for much of his club’s money.
Yet, as much as Yorkshire are keen to curry favour with the national board, Root did little to improve his own chances. Taking over as captain in Gale’s absence, he lost the toss and was forced to bat on an unhelpful pitch, and coming in at number four, he was dismissed for a duck after just five balls off Steven Finn’s bowling.
Few of his team mates fared much better, as Yorkshire were all out on Day One for 178. Finn was instrumental in that downfall, taking four wickets, including that of opener and top scorer Adam Lyth. Meanwhile for Yorkshire, Jack Brooks continued his fine early season form with a further two wickets, sending Chris Rogers and Sam Robson back to the pavilion for 1 and 7 respectively.
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