County Championship (day three): Gale faces poser as Yorkshire still hunt record
Whatever happens on the final day of the season today, the Yorkshire captain will receive the trophy from club president Dickie Bird at the end of the match.
It will be the third time that Gale has been presented with the silverware.
He first received it after Yorkshire clinched the title against Middlesex at Lord’s, and then again for the benefit of the Sky cameras following the subsequent fixture against Hampshire at Southampton.
After the embarrassing events of last season, when the England and Wales Cricket Board decided that Gale could not lift the trophy as he was serving a two-match suspension, no one would begrudge him from milking the moment.
Today’s presentation, which is really for the benefit of those Yorkshire supporters not at the matches at Lord’s and Southampton, would mean a great deal more to Gale if Yorkshire can end the season with a win.
That would give them the most achieved in a season (11) since the move to two divisions in 2000, and also guarantee Yorkshire the most points (286) since the tournament was restructured.
However, if Yorkshire – who head into the final day on 298-9, a lead of 301 – are held to a draw, and if Surrey beat Northants in Division Two, Yorkshire and Surrey would both finish on 275 points.
Should Yorkshire lose and Surrey win, Yorkshire would finish five points behind Surrey on 270, although Yorkshire already have the First Division record to their credit.
Such statistics may be a sideshow in the final analysis, with Yorkshire having achieved their principal goal of back-to-back titles, but cricket is a game awash with figures.
Gale himself could testify to it, having proudly reached 1,000 Championship runs for the season yesterday for the second time in his career.
The 31-year-old needed 61 going into his last innings of the summer, and he made 67.
Having scored 98 at Lord’s and 125 at Southampton, he ended the campaign on a personal high.
“To get 1,000 runs on top of winning the Championship makes it a fairytale year,” said Gale. who signed off with 1,006 runs at 40.24.
“I knew I needed 61 going into my innings, and I thought that if I could get to 30 it would be on.
“But I was mainly thinking about the team situation and trying to put us in a commanding position.
“I’ll have to think about whether to declare straight away or bat on for a bit in the morning, but we want to try to end with a win.”
The match was poised when Yorkshire began the day on 55-1 in their second innings, a lead of 58.
Gary Ballance had 39 to his name, but fell in the fifth over of the morning when he chopped on to Steve Magoffin for 45.
Gale immediately looked in excellent form, off-driving Magoffin for four and then whipping him firmly to the mid-wicket boundary.
At the other end, Adam Lyth was becalmed, a player clearly searching for runs at the end of a difficult season and determined not to give it away.
The third-wicket pair had added 58 in 12 overs when Lyth’s vigil ended, the left-hander also dragging into his stumps, this time off Lewis Hatchett, after scoring 39 from 116 balls.
Moments later, rain drove the teams from the field and 19 overs were lost from the day.
Gale, who had 43 from 44 balls when the sides went off, scored more sedately after the restart, which reflected the challenging nature of the bowling.
Magoffin, in particular, probed away on and around Gale’s off stump and tested his patience as surely as a troublesome child tests the patience of a parent, and the Australian pace bowler was once more superb.
Gale toughed it out and reached fifty from 74 balls with six fours, adding 67 for the fourth-wicket with Jonny Bairstow, the only other Yorkshire player to pass 1,000 Championship runs this summer.
Bairstow played well before falling lbw to Chris Jordan for 36, which left him with a final tally of 1,108 runs at 92.33.
Jack Leaning came and went, scoring nine before edging Chris Liddle to Jordan at first slip, the same combination accounting for Gale when he turned to leg gully straight after tea.
Adil Rashid fell lbw to Magoffin; Liam Plunkett was caught at backward-point off Jordan, and Jack Brooks was caught behind off Hatchett off the final ball.
Tim Bresnan finished unbeaten on 50, passing 5,000 career runs in the process, with Sussex needing to avoid defeat here to stay up should Hampshire – 89-0 chasing 200 – go on to beat Notts at Trent Bridge.
Scoreboard: Page 22.