The ECB have courted unnecessary controversy after banning Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale from lifting the County Championship title.
Yorkshire were crowned champions of Division One on Friday with victory over Nottinghamshire by an innings and 152 runs. However, in spite of that show of strength by the White Rose, their triumph was somewhat overshadowed by the absence of one of the key batsmen who got them there.
Gale was suspended by the higher echelons of English cricket after a spat with Lancashire’s Ashwell Prince in the recent Roses match.
In an act of defiance, Gale was handed the trophy to lift on the outfield by his Yorkshire team mates.
The Daily Mail reports that the furious captain was left in tears in the dressing room while England star Joe Root – making a brief end-of-season return for the county – lifted the prize instead.
Ultimately, Gale was foolish to lose control in his encounter with Prince, after which he was found guilty of verbally abusing his opponent. His initial punishment, a ban until September 27 and therefore the final two games, would have been entirely sufficient.
Having been charged with a Level Two offence – which is not even the most serious – there was ultimately no need for him to miss the official presentation, especially with no real explanation.
The ECB are said to be preparing a statement on their reasoning for the decision, which Yorkshire were informed of last night.
Regardless of their official line, it is a pity that on the most crucial day of the County Championship season, eyes at Trent Bridge were taken off the game and once again cast onto the actions of the ECB.
Champions at last
On the field, Ryan Sidebottom stormed the visitors to victory with four of the five wickets needed at the start of the day. Sidebottom is the only player left in the side from their last title in 2001, a side that could now go on to dominate for a number of years.
Under former Australia bowler Jason Gillespie, their young side are full of potential, possessing the likes of Joe Root, Gary Ballance, and Jonny Bairstow.
Gale’s treatment should not take anything away from their achievements, and indeed his own performances this season, for which he has been widely praised.
Yorkshire can now rejoice in their first title in 13 years, and with the official presentation out of the way, Gale can play a deservedly full part in those celebrations.